Our Cleft in the Rock During a Pandemic
How are we even into the fourth week of the "Covid-19 pandemic, the total-flipping-over-every-aspect-of-normal-life-as-we-knew-it" quarantine? And how am I still clawing desperately at the sides of the concrete pool of life to hold the tip of my nose above water for air?
As my thoughts go these days, as soon as I write that, my mind jerks me back to gratitude to balance my fear. I am quickly reminded of my health and the health of all those I hold near and dear. Yeah, I am stressed, but what about all of the people who actually have been infected by this terrible virus who are truly fighting for every breath?
I want so badly to focus on gratitude and do so with my family at dinner, with God in my prayer time, with friends and patients during my phone/Facetime/Duo/Zoom/Webex conversations. But in the stillness of my heart, in my room tucked beneath my covers, I am so sad, mourning the loss of life as I knew it. And it is hard to say that.
As a mom, I want to protect my kids and their hearts from this grief. All three of mine are experiencing it in different ways. Being an emotionally almost too aware person, I sense their need for a mama hug or peptalk before they even ask. It drives my internal anxiety into high gear while at the same time, I channel "nurse mode" and talk or hug them each through their tears, questions and the terribly difficult, "Mama, I don't want you to get the coronavirus" statements. I want to hide them in the shelter of my wings. I don't want them to feel trauma from this time. I want them to feel safe, supported and secure.
As a daughter, I want to protect my parents and their hearts from this grief. All three of mine are experiencing it in different ways. Stan and I are making a very concerted effort to talk to each of them as close to daily as possible and find space for them to see the kids' faces. Being on "house arrest," as my mother in law calls it, allows for more than ample space for replaying old memories, both good and bad. I want to believe that they are experiencing more laughter than tears, but I don't think I will ever know as they want to hide us in the shelter of their wings and not let us feel trauma from this time. More than anything, I want to protect their health but deeply long for a long close to the chest hug from each of them.
As a friend, I want to protect my tribe from this grief, sadness, confusion and loss of normalcy. The truth is, I know they want the same for me. I have lost the ability to connect as I was before - whether between kid events, on the phone in my mom-van or on Tuesday or Friday mornings for coffee or a morning jog when I used to have time to breathe (and also clean the litter boxes out without being asked 10 questions about what's for dinner at the same time). I have had to turn my full attention to my kids, my work from home/clinic and distance learning x 3. As an extrovert, I thrive on interaction with people. Duo/Facetime/Zoom and Webex help, but they are not the same.
As a healthcare provider, I want to protect my patients and their parents from this fear of what's to come, what may never come and every emotion in between. My precious patients' parents come to me for advice, for risks versus benefits, for words of comfort to ease their mama and daddy minds. I so miss seeing my sweet little ones and squeezing their precious little cuddle bodies as they squeal with delight. I miss the incomparable value of a soft reassuring touch to a crying mama's hand when life with a sick little one has become too much to bear. I want to be able to be present again, in person, and stop relying on the screen that has become essential and begs to take my place.
My dream from the other night, for sure, speaks to these longings I have for my people. I was in the middle of an avalanche. The wind was whipping, the snow drifts shifting and I was gathering my family with my arms, using every bit of strength a mama can muster. My eyes were drawn to an indention in the mountain of snow that seemed, somehow, prepared. We shuffle huddled that way and found this sort of bunker to be stocked with food, water and warm blankets. Frantic, overwhelmed, grateful and anxious all at once, we pulled together and entered into a calm refuge from the storm.
This dream not only reminded me of my present longings for security, but it also brought to my mind the story from Exodus 33 in the Bible. If you are not familiar, this story is about a man named Moses, God's beloved friend, who was chosen to lead God's people out of slavery. Moses regularly met with God, face to face, as one friend meets with another. God would give Moses wisdom and direction for the leading of his people.
This face to face type of meeting was actually with God's human form, not His true GOD form, which was too powerful for a human being to see and live. In a moment of desperation, Moses asked to be able to see God's true form, His glory, to have a tangible assurance of God's presence with him and God's people.
"Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 3:18-23)
God told Moses He would place him in a cleft in the rock while He covered him with His hand until His glory passed by. thereby protecting Moses from the magnitude of His power that he would not have been able to survive. At the same time, God allowed Moses to feel the comfort of His presence in the way he needed it most.
God protects us in the midst of things we cannot understand, kinda like that little notch in the mountain of snow in my dream did. And maybe, like our homes right now in our "stay at home" order amidst the coronavirus crisis. God's great power, whirling winds of an avalanche, a novel lethal virus... all things our human minds cannot rationally fathom. All things we cannot control. All things we cannot face alone, as human beings.
Thankfully, God is really good at taking care of us and giving us what we need right when we need it. Right now, He has us all tucked into our own little clefts in the rocks for our protection. When I view staying home in that light, it sure makes it a whole lot easier to bear. And if we are still enough in our little clefts, if we close our eyes and listen closely, we just might be able to hear and feel Him as he moves past us, gently brushing away our deepest fears and anxieties with his loving Fatherly hand and replacing them with His comfort and peace.
You see, that comfort and peace came in the physical form of Jesus, whose Resurrection from the dead we celebrate on Sunday. God sent Jesus to demonstrate His love and power to both understand and overcome all of our earthly sorrows and fears. If we believe that the coronavirus is stronger than the Resurrection power of God in Jesus, we are wrong. And that same strength, power and peace lives within us today in the form of the Holy Spirit. What a weekend to be reminded that we are not alone, that we have access to supernatural strength and power beyond the coronavirus and that God is still the same caring protective Father He was back in the days of Moses. Peace, strength and comfort to each of you my friends. Amen.