“In a real sense, all life is inter-related. All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As we reflect on the quote of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are aware of our connection as United Methodists. Indeed, “whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
During this time of pandemic many of us are feeling a sense of loss; family, friends, mobility, even our jobs. In a sense, we are experiencing universal suffering. What makes it more challenging is that we are suffering universally in our isolated spaces. And we understand isolation can threaten our sense of safety and contribute to much in life feeling unpredictable.
The trauma associated with COVID is like other trauma….it invites us to look back on trauma we have experienced individually or collectively. By doing so, we are reminded of how we have made it through challenging times before. Remembering those times when we felt paralyzed by fear, afraid to speak of the harm endured, and feeling ashamed for what we have experienced at the hands of another. Perhaps the fear was exacerbated by asking ourselves, “Will we be able to get through this?” We remember the real grief we have experienced in our lives. Our stories give meaning to our lives and it is important to have space to share them. The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women continues to develop resources and provide safe space for persons to share their stories around oppression as women in the Church and/or as survivors of sexual misconduct.
In Matthew 26:39 (CEB), we hear these words:
Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”
The events in the last week of Jesus’ life were colored with challenges, pain of betrayal, the abuse of power by leaders who continued to insist they were guilt-free and not responsible. The misplaced priorities of those in leadership who were more concerned with their political stability and their thirst for absolute power. The harm of lost lives seemed like a mere casualty in their search for authoritarian rule. And Jesus was facing this suffering as he prayed that the suffering be taken away.
Why do we, year after year, keep prioritizing our remembrance of these events through our Holy Week rituals? Is it about remembering the reality of human suffering and understanding God is with us through it all? That nothing separates us from God’s love?
Holy Week 2020 may be experienced and remembered quite differently than previously.
How is God speaking to you during this time in your life? How is She present or feeling absent to you? What are you doing to honor and give voice to your story?
Perhaps, when this is all over, we can realize how much we need one another and how everyone is precious, even in our brokenness. On the eve of his death, Jesus gave his disciples this, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). A very specific image of love saturated in “just as I have loved you.” How are you loving yourself with compassion? How are you loving others with the compassion shown by Jesus?
As we near resurrection Sunday, let us pray for a resurrection of healing, a resurrection of love and a resurrection of unity.
If you have specific questions during this time and/or a personal story you would like to share, we would welcome the opportunity to receive it. Please email us at [email protected].