03/11/2021 When the Clocks Stopped – By Pastor Katie

The clock in my office stopped; months ago, it slowed down and eventually stopped. Our beloved and diligent custodian has made sure the clocks throughout the building keep telling the correct time, but staff offices were left alone as a safety measure.

The clock landed on 8:00—was it 8am on a Thursday when we start Men’s Text Study? Or was it 8pm on the third Tuesday when we were wrapping up a church council meeting? 

In the process of grief, we often mark significant anniversaries—the last holiday spent with a loved one, the last time we saw or spoke with them, and the date they died. 

This week, we are marking the one-year anniversary of when the world started moving under our feet, things were changing rapidly, the news reports from morning to afternoon were drastically different, and then our world turned upside down. 

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization characterized the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic.
On March 15, Minnesota detected the first confirmed cases of community spread, not travel related.
On March 16, President Trump issued guidelines to limit gatherings of more than 10 people.
By March 17, all fifty states had confirmed cases of Covid-19.
On Friday, March 27, 2020 Minnesotans started the Stay at Home order, that would eventually last until May 17, 2020. 

There has been great loss and deep grief over the last year. Some of us have lost loved-ones to Covid-19. Some of us have lost loved ones unrelated to Covid-19, but because of the pandemic our goodbyes may have been different than we’d imagined or altogether non-existent. 

Beyond the death of loved ones, there have been other losses. Some of us have lost jobs. Some of us have lost our sense of security or stability. Some of us have lost our assurance of health. Some of us have struggled with our mental health. Some of us have struggled with our sobriety journey. Some of us have felt frustrated or angry, and feel like we’ve lost things unnecessarily. 

Plans were lost, plans were changed, and even now it can be hard to make long-term plans. 

This is not all doom and gloom, but rather honesty and truth that the past year has been hard in different ways. The year ahead looks quite promising. There is great promise in the vaccines and rate of distribution—I give thanks for the gift of science! 

I am hopeful for a return to a new normal. May we re-enter our lives with intentionality and discernment. Choosing not to run ourselves ragged, but rather taking the lessons we’ve learned this past year and integrating them into the new life that is just around the corner. More time for family walks, more time for quiet, more time to slow down. 

I give thanks that we are able to gather safely. I give thanks that we can navigate this time together and hold space for all of our different comfort levels. 

I wholly and truly believe that each family loves one another, loves their community, and longs to find something more akin to normal. I also know that each and every person’s and family’s comfort level is different—perhaps because of illness, perhaps because of immuno-compromised loved ones, perhaps because there is still much we don’t yet know. We can hold space for one another and our varying degrees of comfort or risk aversion. 

As we mark one year of Covid-19, and the other anniversaries that come with it, remember that anniversaries of grief are hard. Please be gentle with yourself and others. Give yourself and others grace for this time, it has gone on much longer than we initially imagined. Be patient with yourself and others, we’re all processing in different ways. 

Wherever you find yourself in this time, please know you are not alone. 

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