Fathom Mag
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Published on:
March 17, 2020
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2 min.
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Sister Roomba 

There was a time when I was very sick, and because of the IV port in the crook of my arm, I couldn’t take a shower without using plastic wrap. I had to go around and around the IV entrance about a dozen times. Even then, there was the fear that it could get wet. That it could get infected. And that the infection would travel through the bloodstream, into my heart. 

Who knew that what we would be giving up for Lent was each other?
Rachel Joy Welcher

It’s ironic when the beating heart and the metaphorical heart are at odds with one another. With each tedious shower and careful bath, my weariness grew. My mother unplugged me for the night of my senior prom, so that I could spend time with my friends, and cover my picc-line with long, royal blue gloves. I hoped to look like a normal, healthy teenager, for at least a few hours. But there was risk involved. And my mom anxiously waited for me to return home so she could flush my line and give me my medicine. 

Who knew that what we would be giving up for Lent was each other? In this time of social distancing, Evan has become fascinated with the Roomba vacuum we got as a wedding present. It is like having a tiny robot in the house. And, as television depicts, humans grow attached to their advanced technology. This morning I heard Evan refer to the Roomba as “sister” while talking to our dog, Frank. Sister Roomba rides the carpet, humming. She is unphased by objects, running straight into them in order to get a feel for the space she is cleaning. Often, this involves running into Frank’s arthritic legs. He does not seem to be bonding with his little sister.

I joke, because we have to. Because laughter has been a historic means of human survival. And because I know more of you are sitting behind your computer screens today than usual, reading this, because we crave connection in any form. It has not been that long, but already, we feel it. The lack.

The day they removed my picc-line, I remember taking my first carefree shower in months. I stood under the surge of warmth, without worrying. Without raising one arm in the air. I stayed under that waterfall for a long, long time. And I thanked God for the gift of showers. I wonder. Will we return to one another with a greater appreciation? With a little more understanding of the gift, because we have experienced the lack? I wonder. And I hope, that with the refreshment of a warm, cleansing shower, we see the value of community. Of hugs, and taking communion together. Of coffee dates, and small groups. And a shared meal. I hope. And I wonder. 

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine. She earned her Master of Letters in Bible and the Contemporary World from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and has written for The Gospel Coalition, Mere Orthodoxy, RELEVANT, and The Englewood Review of Books. Her book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality, is coming out from InterVarsity Press in 2020. Rachel lives in Glenwood, Iowa, with her husband, Evan, and their dog, Frank. You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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