I lost my sense of humor this week. I found myself walking around with a scowl on my face, side-eying the dog, and unintentionally snapping at my husband.
I can’t trace it back to any moment, any inciting event, or any offense.
Instead, the funk descended on me, as the sunny skies of last weekend turned gray and then started spitting — rain, then hail, then snow. My facial expressions tightened, my tone darkened, and my sensitivities heightened.
Maybe you’re feeling like this, too. We’ve been sheltering at home for a million days, the death toll keeps climbing, and we don’t know when this will end.
Maybe you’ve got other stuff going on in addition to dealing with a pandemic.
Maybe, like me, you’ve got family members who are aging or have health issues, and you feel the weight of not being able to take an active role in caring for them right now.
Maybe, like me, you now know one or two or more people who have contracted the virus, or worse, some who have died. The whole earth is practically groaning with the deaths of over 114,000 from coronavirus let alone all the deaths from other causes in recent weeks.
And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s Holy Week and we can’t be with our people.
I tried to “make the best of it” when we participated in the livecast of our congregation’s Palm Sunday worship service last Sunday. We ‘joined’ our small group on Facebook messenger video chat while we live-streamed the service; then we ‘stuck around’ after church for coffee hour with our friends. It was great to see everyone; it really was. We truly are making the best of a bad situation. Still, I want to be at church. I want to hear the babies crying and the papers rustling. I want to gather in a circle for the bread and the wine. I want to hear the voices of the communion of the saints singing “Hosannah!”
But not this year.
I felt deflated on Thursday afternoon as we prepared to virtually share our Seder meal with our community group. It would be different, too, this year — with each family scavenging their homes for whatever they might use to represent lamb, charoset, parsley, and horseradish. We’d hear the story of the Passover, asking “why is this night unlike any other”, and remind ourselves that “it would have been enough,” but somehow, it doesn’t feel like enough.
And then on Good Friday, I paused from work at lunchtime and sat on my couch to hear music come through our television and to listen to the story of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and burial.
I couldn’t stay through the end — the stripping of the altar, the darkening of the room, the closing of the tomb — because I had to sign back in to work, to meet a student, to put on a smile and behave as though everything is as it should be.
But it’s not. Not this year.
I’ve been trying to shake this funk — I’ve been exercising, eating right, practicing yoga, and getting outside whenever I can. I roasted a turkey breast and shared bits with my husband and our dog while I sliced it for dinner, and still I was left feeling weighed down, irked, and out of sorts.
I don’t typically give up easily, so even on Saturday, I crawled out of bed, did my morning routine, finished a couple housekeeping tasks, and threw on some clothes. The sun had come out, and I felt a spring in my step as I ventured out to the grocery store clad in mask and gloves, got the few items we needed this week, brought them home, cleaned them, and put them away. I took an extra long walk, ate a delicious turkey sandwich, soaked in the tub, and read a good book. I was doing all the self care that would shift this mind, this heart, this attitude.
Since I had a block of time, I decided to make some progress on the medical masks I’ve been sewing for a local hospital. I had several prepped for sewing, it shouldn’t take long to zip them through the machine and finish this batch so they could be delivered. I had everything running smoothly and was beginning to move efficiently, when all of a sudden, ‘clunk’, my needle broke. I didn’t have a spare, so I checked online to see if I could pick one up from JoAnn’s or Target, but no, not when everyone in the world has turned to sewing projects and every store is open only for limited hours. So, I tossed a few packs of needles in my online shopping cart, clicked ‘purchase’, turned off my sewing machine, tidied my area, and walked away.
This morning I woke up — Easter morning. Not a jelly bean in the house, not one egg hidden, and no reason to put on a dress.
I started by doing what I do every morning, reading my Bible reading plan, writing three pages, practicing yoga, and taking a shower.
My husband handed me breakfast as we walked to our living room sanctuary and turned on our church’s Easter service. We sang a few songs, and I confessed to my husband that I wasn’t feeling it. I was still in a funk.
And as though he knew, our pastor started by saying that while some of us were excited by the resurrection, others of us “can’t shake the uneasiness, the ‘not-at-homeness,'” of this season — the coronavirus season.
I leaned in. You mean I’m not alone? I want to be excited — even Easter-level excited — but I can’t seem to shake this funk.
And as though just the two of us where having a conversation, the pastor replied, “You may be tempted to look at this situation through the lens of common experience, but God is at work.”
This is not a common experience. We don’t have a frame of reference for life during a pandemic, but we can trust that God is at work.
Our pastor said that we might feel like the disciples did when they went home on Friday, knowing that their friend, their leader, their Messiah lay dead in a tomb. They must have felt shaken, uncertain of their future, and a little light on hope.
So when they heard the stone was rolled away, they were surprised — even though Jesus had told them He would rise, even though they knew He was the Messiah. They had gotten lost in their grief for a bit — they had forgotten that while they could not see Him, Jesus was still at work.
And He’s at work right now — He is always at work to heal and restore all things. Even right now. Even during a pandemic. Even when I can’t shake this funk.
Our pastor ended by saying this:
It may seem like the coronavirus has ruined Easter, but Easter has ruined the coronavirus.
It may seem like death has ruined Easter, but Easter has ruined death.
It may seem like sin has ruined Easter, but Easter has ruined sin.
It may seem like this funk has ruined Easter, but Easter is right now ruining my funk.
“Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free!
“Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me!
“You have broken every chain; there’s salvation in your name!
“Jesus Christ, my living Hope!”
**After the worship service, we chatted with our community group during our virtual coffee hour. We went for a walk, then I spent some time here processing my grief, my disappointment, and my hope. Then, as we spent our afternoon videoconferencing with our siblings and our children, I could feel the funk lift a bit. We laughed, we smiled, and we believed that God is indeed at work.
***I will link Pastor Gabe’s sermon here, in case you, too, need a little lifting of your funk.