The other day I got out of the house and went for a walk with a good friend. Now, he was in Burlingame, California and I am in Seattle, so we called each other on our mobile phones, put in our earbuds, put on our cloth masks, and went out for a walk. It was a beautiful afternoon and I passed many friends and neighbors. Some were walking their dogs, some were out walking with their partners, holding hands, others were working in their yards or playing with children. I shared all this with my friend in California as we walked and talked. It was wonderful, really, and we would never have thought of this before the pandemic and the stay at home orders.
This is a time of creativity and innovation. Some of us are sewing cloth masks and giving them away. (Here are some of the masks sewn by Karen Tynes.) Others are running errands for neighbors, picking up prescriptions or groceries. My wife, Alice has started enjoying a “happy hour” glass of wine once a week with her best friend in California. We say grace before Sunday dinner with all our kids and grandkids using a zoom video meeting. On the Saturday before Easter, Alice delivered the ingredients for Easter dinner to our three children’s homes and then on Easter we all cooked the meals together in four different homes while connected using a zoom meeting. At one point, someone exclaimed, “Wow, it smells so good!” and we all agreed because we were all cooking the same meal. What joy!
On my “walk” with my best friend down in California we wondered how we find God when we cannot gather for worship, and we realized that God was with us right then and there. God is present in our neighborhoods, in the couple walking hand in hand, in the friends connecting in new ways, and in the strangers greeting each other from behind cloth masks.
We will worship together again. We will gather to worship God and give thanks for all the ways we have encountered the sacred in our lives. We will worship together because we have been inspired by our encounters with Christ, day by day, in the new and strange rhythms of our lives during this pandemic. We will worship together and give thanks to God who is loving and good and whom we see in our neighbors, in those essential workers, in first responders and healthcare workers, and in that stranger wearing a cloth mask.