31 When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 2 he said to them: “I am now one hundred twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the Lord has told me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua also will cross over before you, as the Lord promised. 4 The Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5 The Lord will give them over to you and you shall deal with them in full accord with the command that I have given to you. 6 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” ~Deuteronomy 31: 1-6
A friend shared this Covid-19 response model several weeks ago. It shows three stages of how we might feel, what our reactions and responses might be during this time of Covid-19. It offers us a visual way to see the journey in which we are currently engaged.
If we think back to March when we were starting to hear more about the coronavirus and its possible impact in Canada, there was a feeling of disbelief and even an innocence of thinking it wouldn’t have any impact here. Then the recommended numbers for gatherings kept getting smaller. News conferences with provincial and federal governments started recommending closures of businesses, and even greater restrictions to travel, etc. It felt like a scene out of a movie. We lived through this surreal time and certainly a fear and disbelief set in. We were in that first phase on the model, the fear and shock left us shaking our heads.
A few weeks after that initial shock and disbelief, we may have moved to the next phase. I know I did. I was learning how to produce worship services online, to offer meetings through zoom calls, and in more regular touch with Church Council and our Chairperson, several times daily, in fact. The learning phase in the model meant figuring out how to offer ministry in a new way and stepping out of ones’ comfort zone. Another piece of the learning in this stage was self-care. This meant learning how to take breaks from the news and social media. Going for a walk, connecting with family and friends at a distance, etc. It became clear that it was necessary to prayerfully discern the myriad of information being given. I am proud of our Church Council for the ways they have supported me and the congregation, and responded in this time of pandemic so that we could offer ministry in ways that are safe for our members.
And a few weeks after that period of learning, we are adapting even more to the new reality. This is the growth stage in the model. This includes living in the present, being aware, and living in gratitude.
In our lived reality, we won’t simply move from one of these stages to the end of the journey toward growth. I believe that the circle is more like a spiral and we will loop around and other fears may present themselves, and there may be times when we feel anxious again. There will be moments of learning as we again move through phases of the model.
We are like the Israelites in exile and on their return to the promised land. Moses is told by the Lord that he will not make the journey, but that God will cross over before the people, preparing their way to freedom. God will continue with them in the great journey. This time of pandemic feels like a great journey, too. There will continue to be times of fear, worry, anxiety, as well as times of discerning and learning, along with other times of adapting, calm, and even peace. And as we encounter and live into all of it, God is with us. God is one who makes us bold and strong to endure the challenges of this time. May we be patient with one another, with our governments and health care authorities as we navigate through the coming weeks and months of this journey and hold fast to God’s love and grace as the grounding for who we will be in this time.
O God, we thank you that you cross over before us and prepare the promised land. You not only prepare the way, but journey with us every step of the way. In our times of anxiety or fear, our times of learning and adapting, give us your grace to hold fast to our faith in you, for you are the source and ground of lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.