Not an End, but a Beginning

Here in my corner of the world, we’re four full weeks into social distancing.

Though I’m an introvert, this new normal hasn’t been easy. I miss my family and friends. I miss my favorite outdoor running routes, now deemed too crowded. I miss giving (and getting) hugs. I miss going to the office, though I don’t miss the commute. I have a newfound respect for moms who, unlike me, really can do it all.

At times since the COVID-19 pandemic crashed into our lives in early March — and especially since my son’s daycare closed on March 27 — I’ve felt inadequate. Guilty. Angry. One recent weekday, juggling work deadlines with an 18-month-old who doesn’t understand why his school is closed, I found myself on the verge of tears. Yesterday, I ran 10 miles in my small town, sensing an odd twinge every time I shifted to give other runners the minimum six feet of space. Normally, I’d smile and wave — maybe even say hello. How strange it is to fear the possibilities of breathing the same air as our neighbors.

How strange, indeed.

Maybe that’s why I — the God-fearing Christian who nevertheless hasn’t set foot in a church since Christmas Eve — streamed the Easter service to hear my senior pastor’s sermon this morning. Because while this pandemic hasn’t rocked my world as it has so many others’, it’s given me perhaps too much time to think about what I haven’t accomplished — this spring, this year, this lifetime. Those things I’ve failed to do or the things I’ve simply not done well.

Maybe it’s past time I gave myself a second chance.

How hard it is to live an unfinished life. To wake up every day with uncertainty. Even harder, still, to trust that possibility lies beyond those places where we get stuck or life feels most difficult.

Pen Peery, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

Is that faith?

I don’t know what the future or even the next five seconds holds, but I know these things to be true: I’m healthy now. My family is healthy. I have a job — many don’t. I have a home I love, which makes being homebound a special kind of beautiful. And I’m learning to give myself grace. To be okay with less than my best. To accept that the next book can wait. To put the people I love first. To recognize the little things for the unforgettable moments they are. To learn to live with my toddler sticking green beans in his hair and smearing macaroni and cheese on the floor.

And as our pastor concluded in an eerily empty sanctuary this morning, maybe that’s the true meaning of Easter, after all: believing in the Resurrection so that we may transform our fear into courage. So that life — not death — may have the last word. So that we can understand even the worst things in life aren’t really the end — instead, they’re just the beginning of our story.