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Have you received your list of 125 ways to homeschool your children during a Pandemic yet?
Because I have.
I've got a list of 75 ways to use Alexa for homeschooling kids. And 65 ways to clean all the items in your house you've been neglecting. I don't know about you, but the oven fan screen is not top of mind at the moment.
I have not yet received my list of 25 ways you can die from coronavirus, but the existence of that list is lurking in the back of my consciousness, every time I talk to my mom on the phone, every time I text my dear friend who is a nurse in Northern California, every time I kiss my 4-year-old and give him hugs.
The existence of that last list is all-too real in our world today, so we make other lists to turn it off.
Spiritual leaders and pastors spent much of last week praying and Zooming and recording. We were breathless in the face of uncertainty and impending disaster, and so we mostly hung in together and did what we do well in crisis, which is to pray and be present and witness to the existence of a God who died and rose again.
Week 2 of the crisis has us, and most of America, reeling.
Panic has moved from toilet paper roll buying to desperately proving our worth in a society that has long measured its value on economic measures. Productivity in any field that can possibly work from home has been accelerated, not decelerated.
My husband, a mechanical engineer, has been getting messages from his colleagues at all hours of the night. Pastor friends tell me about receiving tips about camera angles and lighting and how better to present their worship services while we read stories about priests in Italy dying, and dozens of people contracting the virus at an Arkansas church.
Are you panting yet?
Workouts have moved online, and I've already gotten a few posts online about diet plans for the Coronavirus. Have you made your sourdough starter yet? How many crafts have your kids done?
Do you speak Spanish yet, if you weren't a native speaker? How about Mandarin?
Can your kids code?
I have another question for you.
Can you sleep?
I kind of can. Last night I didn't take melatonin gummies with elderberry and I stayed up longer. Then I woke up at 1:30 a.m. dreaming that I had a fist pressing down on my chest. My breathing was fine, but maybe I'd been reading too many articles about Coronavirus symptoms.
We have been on a treadmill for so darn long that I don't think we know how to turn it off.
Fellow religious leaders, we have to lead by example. It is not time to become experts in video worship. It is not time to start 15 new Zoom Bible studies.
It is time to be present, to pray, to care, to witness, and to tell the truth.
We need to stop trying to earn our economic salvation because true salvation lies in relinquishing control, letting go, and giving in to unearned love.
We cannot work our way out of this crisis, or Zoom our way out of it, or produce our way out of it.
For the ones who cannot stop: the doctors, the pharmacists, the grocery store stockers, the CNAs, the hospital workers and janitors. We must STOP and pray for them and store up energy for them because they cannot stop.
The rest of us: We. Need. To. Stop. Pray. Listen.
Stay home and breathe.