Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.
~ Deuteronomy 28:66
One of the hardest things that I have encountered in the last few months is recovering from COVID. While I am grateful that I did not end up in the hospital, I have struggled now for nearly two months with lingering issues that seem to have "changed me."
Let me first say that I am improving. The difficulty in all of this is that I have fallen away from my writing, have struggled with anxiety, as well as, finding a place of peace in my life so that I could find the words that I seem to forget or cannot rediscover in my mind.
On Saturday I attended a live performance of a musical. This is only the second time since the pandemic that I have been present to watch as so many many young people that I have known for the last few years, performed. While the pandemic has continued to remain the leading news article, I realized that life is continuing to go on all around me.
Many of the kids I saw are taller. A few have new voices, and a few I struggled to recognize behind masks that continue to cover faces. I focused on the eyes of a few youth and discovered that I knew who it was.
As I spend more time with my hospice patients at the bedside, especially those who have been in facilities, completely isolated from their families, I am discovering that there is something more to the pandemic experience that we have yet to discover. It is grief. Many have lost much over the last year. Jobs, family, and even close friends. Offices have closed, and several friends of mine have been told that they will never again return to an office filled with people, and instead, will continue to work virtually from dining room tables and newly created work spaces.
Grief is something that I have had some experience with while working as a hospice chaplain, but nothing has prepared me for the feelings of grief that seem to paralyze me at times as I struggle to understand them, work through them and not ignore how they "show up," at the most inconvenient times.
Someone asked me if I, "still cry?" I admitted that I "try not to, as I am afraid at this point I will not stop."
One of the things that I wish the Bible shared more of were the feelings of those who saw Jesus crucified, and then encountered him as the resurrected Christ. I wish that there were words to describe what it was like to have your faith, and everything that you were beginning to believe, overwhelmed by an experience that left them heartbroken, defeated, and uncertain.
While Jesus had shared of the "things that" he must experience, with the words, "so that the scriptures might be fulfilled," there were still those who had heard, but now struggle to understand.
It is the same for many who seek to find a light at the end of "some" tunnel, only to discover that the tunnel is an illusion, and that there is simply uncertainty.
I understand that God remains constant through each new day. I was always one who believed that God was the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, but now I find myself asking God to be more. I struggle to encounter the God of yesterday when today my life is so very different.
It is not something new to me. I hear patients and their families share of finding, "unknown strength," and "understanding beyond anything I have ever encountered."
Followed by, "I know that God is helping me through this."
It is in these days that I find myself clinging to the "mysteries," of a God that has a resurrected Son who seeks for me to have grace and mercy, while restoring me to a place where I can once again "feel like," I once did.
But then I realize one important factor. I also cannot be the person that I once was. Not even the person I was yesterday, because we are moving closer to the greatest change that we will ever encounter. It is when we finally take our last breath and discover that Jesus has been with us every moment, of every day, of every encounter with this world.
In restrospect, I think that I needed this time of "wandering," to help me find my way to a new place that I need to be. While I will continue to grieve, along with many others, I hope that I begin to realize that this new place where I, and everyone else seem to be arriving, will still be a place of hope and love.
Stay in God's grip!
Rev. G. Todd Williams (c) 2021
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.