Over the last couple of weeks since I’ve been “social distancing” I’ve noticed a strange and unexpected result; I’ve become closer rather than more distant from people. Because I have a vulnerable person in my home I’m currently not leaving the house except to go outside for walks (while keeping two metres from anyone I encounter, of course). One would think that this would cause me to feel isolated and separated, but strangely I feel more intimately and deeply connected to people across the globe. Perhaps it’s because those of us who are very privileged have had to let go of absurd but cherished fallacies like: “I’m entirely independent,” or “I don’t need anyone else”. Suddenly we cannot evade the terrible and beautiful truth of our vulnerability and our interdependence.
My own vulnerability has been brought to the surface in a new way, and though it is sometimes uncomfortable, it’s also life-giving (thank you @brenébrown for trying to help us embrace this truth). Somewhere along the way I learned that I must present a public image of confidence, competency and polish. Don’t cry, don’t sweat, don’t ask for help. Now I have to ask one of the members of the church where I’m the priest to do my grocery shopping (I swear the pizza pockets were for my teenager!) I usually appear before my congregation clothed in vestments (that’s a fancy church word for uniform), and now I sometimes greet them on my daily video morning prayer wearing a toque and sweatshirt.
It’s hard for me to be polished when I’m quarantined in my bedroom with Sequoia, our 85lb dog who laps water loud enough to be heard four blocks away. And that’s a good thing, or at least I’m trying to let it be. The situation we’re in is devastating. People are suffering and people are dying. But it’s not out of our control, we just have to love strangers enough to stay home. And we have to admit a truth that some of us would rather die than admit – we need each other – not just in this period of crisis, but all the time. All the competency, wealth and power in the world is nothing more than a flimsy substitution for love built on vulnerability, honesty and kindness. I’m learning something else as well; polish is boring. Perhaps now more than ever, those of whose claim to follow Jesus need to be reminded that he never tried to “appear” to be anything, because he was who he was, which was LOVE, just saying. Love isn’t polished, it’s real - bad hair, swearing, crying, open-hearted, real.
So, let’s stay home, but draw nearer to one another. Let’s quarantine, but let go of the masks that stifle us. Let’s isolate, but let our need for one another connect us more deeply. And, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s going to “get chippy” (thanks @glennondoyle for this great metaphor). Jesus did after all call the overly-scrupulous religious leaders a “den of vipers” (ouch). But, as we cry together, irritate one another, and learn how to pandemic together, let’s remember to laugh together too.
On that note, here’s two videos of morning prayer bloopers from yours truly. Warning: in the first video I say the word “dammit”; I know, it’s shocking, but quarantine me swears sometimes. Like I said, it’s time to get real, because God’s LOVE - it’s for the real you, not the polished you. I've learned this from my dog who is very practiced at keeping it real.