It’s hard to believe we’re 40+ days into this wilderness. I continue to be inspired by the resilience of the church and the steady in-breaking of love in this chaos. When all of this first started, in our little corner of the world, none of us knew what to expect. In many ways, we still don’t. I made a conscious decision in the first couple of days to pack up the art on my office walls, alongside a plethora of books, audio/visual cables, and office furniture. My office at church looks like it’s been ransacked and my make-shift office at home is a feeble replacement. I remember telling the staff on that “first” Sunday,
“We should not assume that we’re going to be working from our offices for the foreseeable future. Maybe we’ll be back to lead worship in the Sanctuary in the week ahead….maybe not? We should be prepared to dock the ship and embark for an unknown period of time.”
Just before leaving that day, I spent the better part of an hour filming the empty building while praying for the people that have called it “home” in innumerable capacities.
Admittedly, I am really struggling with even the limited time I’m spending in our building. Our old ship at Grove and Meadow feels hauntingly quiet and undeniably lonely. We’re doing our best to conserve energy/resources. Thus, the majority of the space is dim. The majority of the doors are closed, now protecting disinfected rooms prepared for ministry. When I arrive early on Sunday mornings I really struggle with a profound sense of loneliness and palpable grief. I miss “us”. I miss the sound of our children and youth laughing in the hallway. I miss the beautiful chaos of Wednesday night suppers and the sound of music echoing in virtually every corridor. I miss seeing and hearing our teachers guiding children to lunch and the contagious laughter on the playground. I miss the beautiful sight of you all greeting one another before and after worship. I miss the sound of hearing the dialects of numerous Burma-rooted languages. I miss eye contact. I miss “us”.
Lately, I find myself spending a lot of time sitting in front of my blank computer screen, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me in determining what visuals to use in the facilitation of our current iteration of worship. We’re blessed beyond measure to have hundreds of hours of video footage and thousands of photographs to draw from. The cache of visuals we’ve collected through the years help remind us of our core values, and remember the ways God has guided us through each chapter of our 130+ year old story.
Over these 40+ days of wilderness, I’ve found myself continually drawn to the footage I shot on that “first” Sunday after our dispersement. At first, I think I was drawn to it because it validated my sadness. It still does. That said, I continually find myself going back to the footage for a different reason. I’m noticing things that I hadn’t noticed before. You know, that is the tender gift of walking in darkness. Our eyes adjust, and we are given an opportunity to see everything with new perspective. Like the lens of the camera, the pupils in our eyes enlarge in dim light. God made us this way….to allow for more light to come in.
I encourage you to take a look at this video again.
- NOTICE how the dimness at one end of the corridor transforms our understanding of light at the opposite end. The closer we move toward the light, the more we find ourselves adjusting to the emergence of Easter.
- NOTICE how the dimness, in the hallway that displays our family photos, accentuates the exit signs that hang directly above our photographs. The previously invisible intimation now states the obvious. The name tags underneath the exit signs are created to help us connect with ONE ANOTHER when we come INTO the building. And yet, in this unique moment they now serve as reminders of Disciples having exited the building, sharing the light of Christ in a world that desperately needs guidance in darkness.
- NOTICE the juxtaposition. We see our beloved sanctuary filled with empty pews. The footage makes me long for us to all be together again. However, we also see visual testimonies of God at work in this present moment and, through it, we are reminded that our God is a creative God that always makes a way. Isn’t it strange? Logic would tell us that we’re alone and yet we know that we are not alone.
- NOTICE now light pours into the darkened sanctuary when the doors at the threshold are barely even opened. I’m struck by the pattern of light temporarily etched onto the tattered carpet. It feels hopeful. I feels hope-filled. It feels promising.
Sisters and brothers, I continue to feel the sadness of our physical separation.
Sisters and brothers, I continue to feel grateful that God has given us each other.
May Christ continue to help our eyes make the necessary adjustments as we were born for such a time as this.
******Thank you Anna Tuckwiller, for singing the story!