I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always, the fence of sand our barrier,
always, the sand between.
And then one day,
-and I still don’t know how it happened -
the sea came.
Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.
Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ
Sr Carol captures the experience of having your life so turned up side down that you can not accommodate it into your normal life, but rather have to learn to live with the new reality. This is how I am feeling, not knowing when things return to normal, just knowing that normal will not be as things were, we will be changed by this experience, individually as well as corporately. Churches are in this with everyone else, working out how to worship together, do pastoral care and be a community that exists more concretely online than in buildings. We will also be facing the task of rebuilding our communities, reopening our buildings, re-establishing groups and doing so from a very different financial place than the one we were in when the crisis hit. At that point it will be important to recognise our solidarity with those who are going through the same kinds of conversations and challenges in their places of work. We are having to adapt at a time when we feel overwhelmed and somehow we will need to reach the point where we are at home in our new environment and can think clearly once again. As for now, perhaps we need to recognise the scale of what is happening to us and to each other, to be kind, forgiving and allow God to meet us in our unworked out messiness.