We Used to Make Bread
Months ago, when the pandemic began, we were all suddenly home, balancing laptops on our knees while shooing the cat away from our coffee. We had time to bake bread from scratch. We created Zoom hangouts as though we hadn’t seen our friends in months, when really, it had only been a week. There was something unifying about the fact that we were all going through the same thing, separately, but together.
I remember buying some shoe racks on Amazon and straightening up one corner of the house - because the system of piling all our winter boots behind the front door just wasn’t cutting it. It felt like maybe this would be a season for all of us to slow down and quiet our hearts. To be home and appreciate the rare existence of an empty calendar.
But things changed. The novelty of memes about toilet paper shortages and live-streamed art lessons by famous children’s authors faded. People have died. Some of our friends are sick. Others have been trapped in their homes for months because they are immunocompromised or elderly. Although many people have begun to resume somewhat normal lives, nothing is quite the same as it was before. I’m not sure it ever will be.
We are no longer making bread. We are taking sides on everything, as if rushing for shelter from a torrent of bullets. As if our only options are to flee right or left, then hunker down and defend our camp. Those who ran in the same direction as us become our comrades. Our family. Everyone else is suspect. And I catch myself wondering, how many friends will I have left after the dust of this year settles? How many relationships will still be standing? How many churches?
I’m tired of watching houses cave in and crumble. Of seeing the Body of Christ dismembered over a Facebook post. We have begun to divide and regather into smaller groups with matching ideologies, deciding that what a person thinks about facemasks or a political candidate is their defining characteristic.
If anything, we have come to realize that we need each other. Even if distance hasn’t made our hearts grow fonder, we can see that we are better together. We are less suspicious when we can look into another person’s eyes. We are less scared when we can talk together during Sunday school or Bible study. We are more patient when in someone’s physical presence, as opposed to merely reading their rant on social media. I have seen how simply buying someone a cup of coffee can temper anger, and praying over them stirs up compassion. When we gather, we see one another more clearly. And I miss that.
But for now, we endure. We ask forgiveness and remind ourselves to breathe. May we show mercy to one another and be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy... (Col. 1:11). Amen.
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