Marking Pandemic Days
Sunday's Theme: Time
Growing up in choirs and band, marking time has become something engrained in my DNA. In these unknowing, unsettling days of COVID and surging numbers it feels like I'm out-of-sorts, offbeat more often than not. Give me 4/4 time anytime. It’s predictable, measurable, familiar. Other meters can be fun and help to keep me hopping – 2/4 or 6/8. I sang something one time in 7/8, and I couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time for a week afterwards. The first number of the time signature tells us the number of beats to the measure and the second distinguishes the note-size that identifies the beat. For instance, 4/4 is: 4 beats to each measure and the quarter note gets one beat. It’s printed in black and white for everyone to see, for everyone to follow. We are all literally together on the same page.
Marking these Pandemic days has none of that. There is no there there. We truly don’t know. We spend hour after hour, day after day just not knowing. There’s no tapping my toe that can guide me through this. There’s no conductor’s baton to follow. There is truly no there there.
And yet, and still…we are here. Now. You and me. Living in and through these Advent days to Bethlehem. Many of us are right at home with this liturgical season, some of us have been doing it our whole lives. We are familiar with the songs that are sung. We know that on Sundays we light our Advent candles. What is remarkable is that none of us have been right here before. There are no elders to lead us through this time. There is no institutional memory that brings us answers to our questions. 2 + 2 is not adding up these days.
And yet, and still…we are here. Now. I’ve never really been a solo singer. I am in my best-place when I am part of an ensemble or a gaggle or a village. When I feel alone and lost, I go back to what I’ve known. I go back to what I can trust. For these Pandemic Days I am leaning into what is grounded and rooted inside of me. For these December 2020 days I am turning and returning to what has brought me this far: faith and hope and love. My faith tells me that on this Second Sunday of Advent we are to light the Peace candle. Wisdom’s words from Isaiah 11 say:
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
For today I will be marking my time humming “O Come, O Come Emanuel.” I will mark time letting my Peace candle shine through the day. I will hold these ancient words from Isaiah close to my heart. And today as I am living in and through these Advent/ 2020 / Pandemic time I will pray for the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and of the fear of God. Today I will pray for Peace to come for all God's children.
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"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.