by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director

If you are sitting in the leader chair, there is only one practical solution right now: start listening. Deeply hearing the stories, the grief, the heartfelt longings. Letting the pain pour out as people lament what is no more. Oh please, don’t tell us not to cry or not to feel whatever we are feeling. Don’t try to make it better, because you can’t. No graduations. Not for kindergarten, high school, college… No Little League. No dance recitals. No funerals. The list goes on.

Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Then I realize, no, it feels like a year ago.

But the calendar tells me that it was only nine weeks ago.

Where were you when the world changed?

My family gathered to celebrate my husband’s retirement. I am so incredibly grateful that all our children and grandchildren were together. We had no idea that within three days the whole world (literally) would be quarantined.

There are charts that can guide us through the stages of a natural disaster. I keep turning to those for help in figuring out where we are right now. I can’t find a pandemic “plan,” but I know this:

We are going to need time to heal.

We are all absorbing so much. Anxiety. Pain. Worry. Fear. Isolation. Grief. It’s a lot to bear and we each carry it differently.

Some of us need to talk about it, or go for a long walk, or push through a yoga practice. To this I want to say, “YES!”

Other people want to pretend it’s not really happening, especially if their personal world is largely unchanged. To this I want to scream, “STOP! Look around you! The suffering is real and our neighbors are hurting!”

Healing is going to look very different for each of us, but we can be in it together. We can get innovative and creative about the new world we are being called into. Friends, if you think we are going back to the past, I want to say, “Let that go! God is doing a new thing.”

We are going through this together. God is going through this with us. We are the Israelites in the wilderness. We are Mary, afraid and hopeful with pregnancy. We are Peter, lying and denying Jesus. We are on the road to Emmaus. And we are Thomas, who doubts.

We are in pretty good company as we heal. Lean into your prayers and your study of scripture.

And listen. Just listen.