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This covid-19 shit is real.
To be exact: shit show.
We call it a shit show at church.
Shit show because there were no other words.
What are the right words when it comes to a pandemic on top of everything else?
The list is long.
Forest fires rage.
Poverty accelerates with rising unemployment just behind.
And we haven't even mentioned #black lives matter.
Just this week a black man was shot 7 times in the back while his children watched.
Say his name: Jacob Blake.
It was with these heavy hearts that we gathered on Zoom.
Not outside socially distanced like on Sundays,
our folding chairs and water bottles our new church attire.
We miss each other's company. We miss each other's physical presence.
Still we are truly vulnerable and present with one another on Zoom.
The wise woman leading called us simply to share our shit shows.
She asked: What is it like for you? What does it feel like?
Open ended questions that broke our hearts open.
One person confessed that they are so lonely, fighting against depression.
The only thing keeping them sane is a beautiful walk.
They worry. What happens when they can't take that walk?
Another has a stressful job.
She is worn out.
It’s usually okay, but not on top of everything else.
Her mother fell again.
Your mother fell again?
My dad's dementia is worse now, another adds.
Cameras have been placed in his house so they can monitor him.
He lost his phone again. They have to get a new one.
He needs a better living situation, but who will pay for that?
Another confessed he has begun to paint his walls in bright Mexican colors.
He can't stand neutral anymore.
His loneliness is suffocating him.
He doesn't want to give into his depression.
It is all too much.
He misses seeing his children.
He has set his Alexa to remind him every 2 hours to take deep centering breathes.
Another just cries.
She misses her dad.
Her dad has been her rock, her pillar, her life line.
She cries because it's a shitshow,
because there are no other words.
What are the right words when it comes to a pandemic?
No one has even mentioned school.
The endless complications of education.
Masks, social distancing, hybrid, not going back, going back, zoom for children?
What about those chittick school children? She laments.
Those children who have no one to watch them, no one to teach them how to read.
No safe space to be nurtured day in and day out.
I’m pretty sure I am not going to teach this year, another says.
It’s just not safe for me at my age.
I’ve yet to make a decision because the school hasn’t made a decision.
Living with indecision, in between, liminal space.
We lament. We wonder. We get quiet.
We hold space for teachers and administrators and kids all at the same time.
We know there are no easy answers.
A mother sighs, If my kids don't leave this house I'm going to lose it!
I can't do it anymore. I can't pick up anymore wet towels.
We all need a break from each other!
Someone else laughs.
Another adds, I'm sure glad I don't have any small kids at home anymore.
I don't think we would have made it!
It wasn’t all lament.
We laughed too, teased each other lovingly.
We talked about the Mr. Potato Head.
Did you know first there was no plastic potato.
You actually used a real potate.
Who had an Easy Bake Oven?
The shitshow is laughter as well.
Is the volume turned up more than before? we wonder.
It feels like the volume is too loud.
There was depression before.
There was anxiety before.
Just dealing with a pandemic is hard enough.
How do we deal with everything else and the pandemic.
Talking about shit shows, I had plumbing problems.
Me too, someone says. We laugh.
We just bought a new house, they explain.
I had no idea what it was like to care for a home.
Talk about shit shows, her father-in-law is dying.
There are no clear answers.
If only we could choose our deaths with the snap of a finger.
He's had a stroke on top of his congestive heart failure. It's awful.
Did you hear so and so fell on her knee at work and is on crutches.
Add her to the shitshow prayers as well.
As if that isn't enough make sure you add those struggling with addiction.
Oh yeah and those struggling with mental health.
Don't forget the children at the Border in cages.
The shitshow continues.
Don't forget the RNC. All that hate. It's too much.
So we pray and we covenant to continue to pray for one another.
Because that's who we are.
We are a community that vulnerably shares with each other.
We surround ourselves in the endlessly loving presence of God and each other.
And that love sinks into the mess of our shit shows.
We are a shit show church.
We say it proudly. Shit show.
We say it loudly. Shit show.
We say it unapologetically. Shit show.
What other word is there to describe what's going on?
We are vulnerable.
We are human to each other.
We are community.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.