It feels good to have the sun shining today in NYC after a snowy and rainy day yesterday. I took my very reluctant dog for a walk up in the hills of Inwood Hill Park and went to one of my favorite spots – Overlook Meadow – where I could see the birds of prey cruising and cruising and soaring. One eagle, lots of hawks and maybe a falcon today. I wonder a lot about the wildlife, are they enjoying some time without so many humans out and about? Does the air feel cleaner to them? Are fewer of their herds and families being hit by cars? Is the world suddenly blessedly more quiet for them?
I think also of the unequal way this pandemic is affecting people in this country: I have clergy colleagues in more rural states who are having trouble convincing folks in their congregations that this whole pandemic isn’t just some hoax, something cooked up to make the President look bad, or who knows what else. Is this thing even real if you can’t see results in your local community?
Meanwhile, here in NYC, I have friends who are figuring out how to deliver a baby when hospitals are no longer allowing partners to accompany laboring folks, and friends who are nurses who are sharing how frightening it is to have to put their well-being on the line due to a severe shortage in basic medical supplies, friends who have lost their jobs and are scared, teachers who have had to come up with entire online curricula over the course of a week or less, friends who need hospital care for things other than COVID-19 who are unable to access it.
Then, the inequalities even within the city limits: people cramped in small apartments versus large penthouses (or even large 1-2 bedrooms like what I am lucky enough to live in), people whose jobs are not threatened immediately by this pandemic and those whose jobs have ended, kids who live with safe families versus violent ones.
None of this is fair, and it makes me angry, and I feel so powerless.
One of the readings from today’s morning prayer is from a letter to an early Christian community who was also struggling with sharing resources. This is from 1 Corinthians…
Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!
Every now and then Paul could really tell it like it was, and this was one of those times. Later on he even goes on to advise folks to not even bother celebrating the Lord’s Supper if they couldn’t learn to make sure that everyone was provided for equally. Like, do not bother to come to church if you cannot get your ethical sh*t together.
What a mess.
Today I’m thinking and praying for guidance about how to best support the many, many people who are on the frontlines of this and who are bearing the brunt of the inadequacy of our federal government: nurses and doctors and hospital staff; “gig” economy workers and restaurant staff; families who were already living on the brink of poverty and despair; children in homes where domestic violence is an issue; the sick and the dying and all those who need medical care who are unable to get what they need right now.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.