Precious son Sam sent this picture and remarkable quote to me yesterday. The picture and then the words stopped me, right on the spot. As I was reading, the noises of the world around me went silent. As I read these words, they made their way directly to my heart. These words are daunting and haunting. These words feel powerful and overwhelming and inspiring and true. These words feel like a warm blanket placed around my shoulders after walking through a bitter wind AND at the very same time, they make me want to weep. These words speak to the breadth and depth of what these days will most likely bring. They acknowledge that storms demand a cost. It’s foreboding to hear these words in what we are being told is so early in the pandemic. And still - important words for me for today, and perhaps for you as well.
In so many new and vulnerable ways this pandemic is shaking up just about everything. Not just those I hold dear, but this virus is shaking us all up - everyone and everything on the planet. At the end of the day I feel like I’ve been taking whirling dervish lessons and my soul is spinning.
One of the truths that seem to be facing us is that soon and very soon we will start losing many things. It’s unnerving to have no idea today what we may lose tomorrow. Change is surely coming. I’m not a fan of change. So much of my life I have pushed against change, trying to hold back the river. Change is coming with this, and there is no way out but through. As we go through these coming days, we will be asked to let go of many of the things that bring our lives comfort and strength. Because we have no idea what’s coming with the storm, it is impossible to prepare. It is impossible to guard our hearts in ways that will help us through. But nonetheless we can do our best to name and claim what holds us in place, what is our core foundation.
When I was in college one of my part-time jobs was coaching an eighth-grade girls Catholic basketball team. When I signed up to coach, I had such dreams for what we would do with our season. The girls were smart, and go-getters and a couple of them were even a little bit athletic. They were excited about playing basketball and they were excited about being on the team together. Secretly in my heart of hearts I had hopes of going to the state finals my first year of coaching. Imagine my surprise when we slumped our way into the locker room at the halftime of our first game. Not only were we behind 28-0, but we hadn’t once gotten the ball across half court. I remember thinking of all the halftime speeches I had practiced for that day. And I remember looking into the broken-hearted faces of those girls. What to say? How in the world did this happened? How had everything gone so wrong so quickly? How in the world could we walk out of the locker room and play the rest of the game?
This storm feels a little bit like that first basketball game of the season. What I thought would be fun and easy and memorable, turned out to be a gut-punch. For some reason my heart is remembering that walk back into the gym after halftime. For some reason re-playing that terrible day feels like my spirit is preparing me for what may come. That season taught me about not quitting. That season taught me about finding joy in unexpected places. That season taught me about the strength of 14-year-old girls. That season taught me that there are times to get out of the way, let go of what was supposed to happen. I had to let go of the dream team that season and there have been many lessons since. These letting go stories and memories gave me the strength to not quit and show up for what was coming next throughout my life.
At some point this storm will pass. At some point, the dust will settle. Sometime off in the future, we will share stories of great sheroisms and heroisms. We will tell one another stories of miracles and amazing feats. What I have learned from my past, what brings me strength and courage as I look at this picture from Sam is that life has taught me that I don’t quit. I pray that that will continue to be my story. I learned about not quitting from those eighth-grade girls walking back out to the gym all those years and years ago. And I’ve learned it many times along the way since. Maybe this can be our gift to one another, to be a shelter in the storm, and to remind one another that we are strong enough for this. That we do not quit. Alone. Together. It is in us.