In the midst of all of the difficulties, uncertainties and unpleasantness of the current pandemic, one of the more minor issues, yet still a persistent one, is that I find myself being asked, one way or another, about what I’m doing with all of my new-found “stay at home” time. Friends, acquaintances, and family (who do not live with me), frequently ask how I’m managing with all of my new “free time”: What are you doing? Are you working on puzzles? Are you developing a new hobby? Are you sorting through your stuff? Or, they are making suggestions: Hey, do you want to share recipes? Interested in any book suggestions?
Or, what feels like the worst of all, a couple of people have asked about when I expect to be able to have worship services again, as if Old South has gone completely into hibernation through the crisis.
It’s difficult not to shout in a loud voice: I’M WORKING!
Before Easter, I was working more than usual, even more than a typically busy holy season. I’m still doing worship. I’m offering opportunities for online “gatherings” during the week. I’m planning and delivering a variety of programming, including an almost daily Zoom service during Holy Week (it was interrupted for one day, when we lost power and internet at home). And, I’m still actively involved in work, at Old South and in the Maine Conference, that is simply part of my life, pandemic or no pandemic.
I’m working. I’m learning how to deal with the transition from in-person events and worship, to online events and worship. I’m updating the church website (at a small church, I’m the church webmaster) several times a week, rather than once every couple of months. I’m learning how to create a YouTube channel, and how to upload videos to that channel, and then how to upload other people’s videos to our new channel.
I’m spending a great deal of time wrestling with hard (for me) to understand technology, and then finding that I must do what I really don’t like doing: ask for help. Or, worse, allow myself to be helped when my family has had enough of my cursing and muttering. And, then I need to help others connect in this new way. And, I worry– a lot– about those who refuse even to try to connect to our new way of gathering as church.
I must add here that I am tremendously thankful to a couple of Old South folks who have really embraced our new ways of gathering and have offered themselves as coaches to those who with our new online existence. They are a significant blessing, to be sure.
I’m working. I’m writing sermons and other worship materials. I’m trying to provide some level of pastoral care. I’m trying to help people stay connected.
It’s all different, that’s for sure. I’m not surprised to find that I really don’t like this new way of being, that I really rely on Sunday in-person gatherings to get a sense of how people are doing and to listen for those little pieces of information that people share. And, it’s also not surprising to discover that it’s much harder (actually, just about impossible) to get people to share those little pieces on a Zoom screen. On the positive side, though, it’s been nice to have more contact with people who have moved away, but have been joining us for worship in this new, online congregating as church.
Folks from Old South know that I’m working, and it’s been nice to have them acknowledge that it’s taken some effort to move our life online. I’m grateful.
To those who are not part of my church community, who think that I’m just hanging around with nothing to do, who want me to do that weird email chain mail recipe exchange (I’ve received several such emails) or want to help me occupy my time with their ideas of what I could be doing: I’m working!