How did you spend your day yesterday?
Perhaps you spent some of it on the phone or FaceTiming, checking in with friends and loved ones. Or working on that puzzle you’ve been working on, or knitting or sewing or needlepointing. Perhaps you went for a walk or did some gardening; had a Zoom meeting or cleaned your house (or thought about cleaning, again!). Maybe you were trying to keep the kids busy or “on task” with schoolwork; or in a hospital or clinic caring for patients; or supporting someone who is grieving, struggling. And finding yourself grieving and struggling, as well …
My family and I live in a townhouse community on a cul-de-sac in Mt. Washington. Over the past few days and weeks, I have walked more laps around our cul-de-sac than I can count. I’ve come to appreciate a small and mighty grove of evergreens standing guard at the entrance of our community, as well as a particularly elegant tree now blossoming with pink flowers, at the west end of our circle. The trees and incessant bird-chattering that fill the air around them, of late, give me a sense of perspective that is both grounding and healing.
Yesterday, as I was walking around our cul-de-sac at sunset, a new sound greeted me; it was soft and somewhat unfamiliar, so I had to strain to listen. As I drew closer to the home of one of my neighbors, the sound grew louder, and I suddenly realized what I was hearing: someone was chanting prayers in Hebrew over a Seder meal, in celebration of Passover.
Even though I could not see what was happening through closed curtains just a few yards away, I could picture the scene in my mind’s eye: a family, gathered around a meal, candlelight and prayers. I stopped in my tracks, closed my eyes, and allowed the sound and image to wash over me. For a few moments, I was lost in a feeling of timelessness, tapping into the reality of generations of people of faith, who gather and pray and sing together, whatever is going on in the world around them; and lost in the power of this particular, ancient, sacred ritual: of gathering around a meal to remember how God saved God’s people, leading them out of slavery and suffering to freedom and new life.
Tonight, we too will sit at our tables in our homes, echoing the prayers of our Jewish brothers and sisters, recalling that night long ago when our Lord gathered with his friends and loved ones, to eat, pray, and remember. Despite the physical miles and neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs that separate us, we will be together, in Spirit and in Truth. And amidst our world’s present suffering, as generations before us have experienced and lived, God is with us, in us, among us, surrounding us, enfolding us, between us.
And God isn’t finished with us yet.