I went to a drive-by graduation party last weekend. It’s one of several such events that I’ve participated during our time of collective physical distancing. It’s a nice way to try to make the best of the situation that we find ourselves in. But as I pulled up to the house last Saturday, the graduate sitting in a chair in the front lawn, she was crying. Why cry at a happy event? Why cry when your friends and family are reminding you that we haven’t forgotten your special milestone even in the midst of a health and economic crisis? I don’t know for sure what all her reasons were, but it caused me to think about the things we need to grieve – the things we’ve had to leave behind. That graduation party should’ve had cake, affirmations, sharing of stories and photos. And this graduating class will never have those things. Those parties are gone, together with all of the opportunities with newly born children that didn’t get visited by friends and family, with birthdays and new jobs uncelebrated, with breakups and lost jobs unmourned. Video chats and group calls help, but they’re not the same.
And things will never be the same, exactly. This whole generation is likely to give a little extra space in the pew or in the supermarket for the rest of our lives, just like the folks that grew up in the Great Depression would still scrape out the last teaspoon of peanut butter after they were millionaires.
And maybe we’ll change in other ways, too. Maybe the seeds of sustainability have been planted in our culture’s consciousness, and we can water those seeds by living our lives that are guided by values other than materialism. Maybe the seeds of racial justice have been planted in reminding us that we are all equally susceptible, and that we can water those seeds by working for true racial equality. Maybe the seeds of social justice have been planted in seeing how many of us were one paycheck away from real crisis, and perhaps we will water those seeds by turning away from capitalist profiteering and the military industrial complex toward real programs of societal uplift.
Our Interfaith community must point the way to a new world – a world with compassion for the sick, just and equal sharing, and working to fix problems that we didn’t cause rather than sitting back in self-righteous isolation. Listen in the way that is appropriate for your faith tradition in this time of distance so that we’ll come together stronger and ready for the new work that is coming.
I love y’all.
Lead Pastor, Circle of Faith
Treasurer, Tampa Bay Interfaith