My child started school last week during Pandemic 2.0. We all hoped we had made it through the worst of it last spring. We had a couple of months of reprieve, when we felt okay not wearing a masks, and many parts of life began to return to some “normalcy.” And then the Delta variant hit, changing the game yet again.
As a parent, the beginning of this school year was even more difficult than last for a number of reasons. Wanting to do everything I can to make the “right” choice, not just for his physical health, but also his psychological and social health (if you’ve met my child, you understand that he NEEDS to be around people! ☺) being primary. And, even if we believe differently about masks and other things, I truly believe we are all trying to do the best we can for our children. As I have talked with other parents, I know I am not alone in this struggle and for those I have not spoken with, I want to let you know that I see you. You are not alone. Thank you for making tough decisions.
I have many people in my life who are teachers. In a good, “normal” year, teachers are undervalued. They give of their hearts, of their time way beyond a regular workday, and of their own money to do the best for their students. They care about the “whole” child/student, not just what they are learning. And these past 18 months, they have gone above and beyond to learn new ways to reach their students. Yes, there have been moments when, as a parent, I have been frustrated with how something was or was not done. Yet, again, I remind myself that we are all doing the best we can in unprecedented times. Please know, I see you. I see you constantly innovating, loving my child, and being frustrated that your students are often not at the levels you would expect them to be at during a “normal” year. You are not alone. Thank you for persevering in the midst of complete mental and physical exhaustion, and doing it with a smile on your face.
I have had the privilege of knowing members of our local school board over the years and in working closely with the current president in a number of committees here at our church. I have not always agreed with the decisions of our school board, but I know this man’s heart and that there are many factors at play of which I am not aware. To all who are making decisions for our students, teachers, and staff, I see you. I see how hard you are working, again, in the midst of unprecedented times. I know you are having to weigh many decisions and there are others that are out of your hands. You are not alone. Thank you for doing the hard, agonizing work you are doing in the realm of public opinion that is not always kind.
I have a number of people in my life who work in hospitals – nurses in the ER and on Covid floors; chaplains, social workers, child life specialists journeying alongside children and families in pediatric hospitals bursting at the seams with RSV and Covid; administrators on a number of levels constantly monitoring situations of full hospitals. Many of you have born the brunt of so much of these past 18 months. You care for the sickest of the sick AND their families, you hold hands with the dying, and then you go home to your families where you worry about transmitting disease to them. I know you are exhausted and your hearts break over and over again. I see you. You are not alone. Thank you for ALL you do.
And, obviously, I have many clergy in my life – friends, colleagues, partners in ministry in this place. I am constantly amazed and inspired by you. Many have become technology and production experts in the midst of caring for the sick when they couldn’t be in direct contact, and constantly innovating to keep their faith communities connected. None of us were trained for this. I have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing, willing, and gracious people who, in the midst of their own anxieties and worries, continue to live their calling in this ever-changing, crazy world. I have the privilege of serving alongside countless laity who are reaching out and caring for one another, as well as looking at our world, seeing needs, and doing what they can to meet those needs. I see each of you beautiful people. You are not alone. And I thank God for you!
And beyond Covid-19 tough things continue to happen in our world. I know a number of people who have served in Afghanistan. Regardless of what any of us feel about the US presence there, you are the ones who knew and worked alongside those who are living in the midst of threat right now, fleeing their homes, worried about their families. You and your families are the ones who have sacrificed your lives and for many, your mental health, to be there. I know this last week has been so hard. I see you. You are not alone. Thank you for your service, even when it may feel like it was for not.
As many as I see and thank God for what they are doing, I often wonder about all the others I don’t see. May God open our eyes to see beyond our own immediate circles. May God open our hearts to love those who may think and believe differently than us. May God bless and keep each of us.