Yes…just over 6 months since our last in-person worship for Como Lake United on March 15th, 2020. Most of us would just like this pandemic to be over, but it is very likely that it will be here for a while yet. However, I learned this week* that the 6-month-mark, the slump that feels like a wall, is significant, and even predictable in any sustained crisis or trauma. Aisha Ahmad, associate professor in Political Science at the University of Toronto, writes from her own experience of the six-month slump in working through long-term crises in various areas of the world. I encourage you to listen for the hope in her words:
“The six-month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. We have all adjusted to this "new normal," but might now feel like we're running out of steam. Yet, at best, we are only one third of the way through this marathon. How can we keep going? First, in my experience, this is a very normal time to struggle or slump. I always hit a wall six months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to "get away" or "make it stop" is intense. I've done this many times, and at 6 months, it's like clockwork…
This time, our crisis is global and there is nowhere to run. That’s OK. I’ve had to power through that six-month hump before and there is life on the other side…the wall is real and normal. And frankly, it’s not productive to try to ram your head through it. It will break naturally in about four to six weeks if you ride it out…if you can meet your obligations and be kind to your loved ones, you get an A+… [and] in the meantime I try to support my mental and emotional health.
Take heart. We have navigated a harrowing global disaster for six months, with resourcefulness and courage. We have already found new ways to live, love, and be happy under these rough conditions. A miracle and a marvel. This is hard proof that we have what it takes to keep going…Trust that the magic that helped you through the first phase is still there. Take a breath and a pause. You’ll be on the other side in no time.”
Our past 3 months’ weekly updates have included stories from a number of our leaders at Como Lake sharing about what has fed their souls and lifted their spirits over the past few months. We heard a variety of ways that people have found sustenance through their faith and relationships. We heard, too, of some of struggles people have faced. We each walk this strange pandemic journey in our own unique way, yet having the support of a community of faith along with our own prayer and ways of tending to our wellness are key to moving forward in true hope.
Another key is the gift of holding the questions* that arise in times of major transition, certainly ones we have pondered while discerning about Como Lake UC these past 6 years, questions that become accentuated in a prolonged time of change:
What is really important? What is my role and call in these days? What do I want my life legacy to be? Where is God? What is my faith? How does it live now in this time?
Our faith and experience of God may become more real in these times or perhaps some of us will find an awakening of curiosity about our faith, about the church, about our place in this world. Know that the Holy Spirit is always walking alongside us, coaching, teaching, and encouraging. As the movie Frozen 2 highlights, “When one can see no future, all one can do is the next right thing.” Just Do the Next Thing
Here we are, at the six-month mark, being assured that others have walked through this particular stage before – and survived. We hold weighty questions in this time and are called upon to trust deeply in God’s presence and our own ability to discern…the next right thing.
The Peace of Christ be your guide.
*Thank-you to Rev. Cole Grambo of Selkirk United Church for his work on researching the significance of the 6 month mark, for this resource, and for some of the questions that arise in a time of transition such as this.