Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
~Matthew 11:29 - 30
Last week I took the time to sit down and write a blog post. As I was finishing it up and was about to post it, my computer logged me out of the website and my words were just simply gone. No backup. No draft. Nothing. I remember thinking to myself, "God, I can't believe I found the words and now they are gone!"
As I hit the "back button," multiple times, just hoping that somehow they may reappear, my frustration increased. Noticing the clock on the wall, I just closed the computer and headed out the door for the city where I was scheduled to attend the funeral of one of my patients.
I pulled onto the highway and all I could think about were the words that were now lost. Why did it matter so much? I then was reminded of a friend's last words to me, reminding me that "Last words are lasting words."
I thought of all the the patients that I meet, who find that their last days are often silent. With the loss of the ability to speak, as the body surrenders.
I thought about how I have struggled to find the energy just to make it through each day at this point as I continue to rebound for a dark period of depression, and how the energy that I had spent to put my words down had now suddenly been "wasted."
I thought about the friends who have written me to say how much they missed my blog, and that they "hoped" that I would return to it soon.
I began to feel an amazing amount of anxiety.
Why did I allow it to effect me this way? Writing is something that often brings me to a new place. It helps me to relate my faith with my walk, even when the walk is within a dark valley.
So yesterday I began again. Writing a few paragraphs and then realizing that I would not have time to continue my thoughts any longer. I seem to be so "scheduled," these days so that I don't detour from the path that I need to be on in order to meet expectations that others have placed on me. I feel the pressure of the need to "show up," and to "perform."
I am encountering a different world these days, where many of my patients die within the first one or two days after coming on hospice because people are waiting longer, and hospitals are discovering that people are much more advanced in their illness. I have a strong suspicion it is out of fear of the virus, and whether families will be present with their loved ones as they die. The stress of these families is translated into short lengths of stay on hospice, anxiety of strangers walking into their homes with face masks and face shields, and the stress of dying in a world that no longer is the same.
I am discovering that everyone I meet seems to live with some level of anxiety now, and that there is not the time to talk about life journeys because the journey is too real at this point.
The church I serve is giving me this weekend off from preaching. I think that they, too, have sensed what I have been experiencing, as my sermons over the past month have been filled with emotional and spiritual vulnerabilities that have actually invited people to come and share their own stories with me, but have left me exhausted and empty.
I look at pictures of friends and families enjoying places, gatherings, while I still consider every place I go, every drive thru I might enter, and think of those that I have a responsibility to protect. I find myself getting angry that there seems to be the lack of empathy, or understanding, of what is being asked of each of us at this point. I am drawn to words such as carelessness, selfishness, and failure to see the value in others, while my spirit tries to reconcile these thoughts, realizing that people are going to live their own lives.
I realize that we have added a new layer of discrimination to the long list that already exists, and I try not to fall into the invited trap, but the well-being of others and those who are most vulnerable will always prevail in my own justice-minded thinking. Each day I meet people who long for just "one more day," and I am a witness to those who fail to realize that their actions may bring that "last day" to someone who is vulnerable much sooner than the person might expect.
I realize that my mirror reflects an imperfect person, just trying to survive in this world that seems to be moving faster than I am able to perceive. We are at odds with one another, and I wish that the peace that still exists under all these layers was easier to be found.
In the meantime, I will continue to ponder the weight of this all, while I continue to listen to the invitation of Christ to take this weight from me.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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.