Editorial: Learning the wisdom of Divine love as we shelter in place

May 12, 2020 | by Selby Ewing

Editorial: Learning the wisdom of Divine love as we shelter in place

Editorial: Learning the wisdom of Divine love

as we shelter in place

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:38-39 CEB)
 
Coronavirus came early to the California-Nevada Conference and many of us.  Thanks to the wisdom of Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño and our Conference leadership, we have been sheltering in place since the first days of March. We have been hoping with each week and now each month that this time out will be over tomorrow so we can go back or go on to a life much more to our liking.
 
We are in a time of public exhaustion and like many of you I am listening to the COVID-19 senate hearings this morning – full disclosure, on NPR Facebook live, so that may tell you a little something about me. I’m listening for some hopeful news, some definitive news, anything but we’re looking at the data: more wait and see news.
 
My new mantra is ‘identify… isolate… contact trace…
 
The news confirms what we learn in each flashpoint, crisis or as a person of color goes about the routine of daily life – a jog, driving to work, shopping or being at home with family – that the systems of this country are designed to benefit white people.
 
While our sisters and brothers of color are again exploited, infected and dying at disproportional rates inside and outside of hospitals, we see our white brothers and sisters carrying guns into state capitols and march with signs outlining first world problems and I must admit, although an ally, I am complicit and benefit from systems that cause so much harm.
 
We white people are so conditioned comfortable and dominant we don’t think white is a ‘race’, but don’t get me started…
 
In the midst of it all I am tired of sheltering in place. I feel like a child learning some life lesson and I’m not alone.  Although, well, I am alone.
 
Yet as I become numb to the numbers and long for a haircut and a night on the town:
 

  • Opening Up: States around the country are opening without meeting national guidelines for a 14 day decline in infections and deaths before moving into phase 1 of 3 of the phased guidelines. The much- publicized headline for today’s senate hearings is from Dr. Fauci who explicitly warns that we will see resurgence in cases even with the most conservative gradual opening and we must be prepared to care for those people.  

 

  • New Hotspots: As some states are feeling some relief as cases of COVID-19 plateau and decline, others are new hotspots and just now seeing the first waves of infections and death.

 

  • Infected White House: As the Trump Administration refutes the latest CDC protocols calling them too stringent, the White House is battling coronavirus in the halls of the West Wing and as of the press conference yesterday, March 11th, has ordered all staff to wear facemasks.  As members of the White House security detail fall ill with the virus, Trump maintains wearing a mask is just not for him.

 

  • Possible Virus Mutations and New Related Illnesses: All viruses mutate and as the coronavirus mutates it complicates the ability to achieve a comprehensive vaccine.  Children in New York City with the virus antibody are coming down with a mysterious and potentially fatal nervous system disease that may yet affect other communities.

 
So yes, I am tired of sheltering in place.
 
Yet lately I’ve been thinking that as we all long for our normal routines and the fellowship of a full church sanctuary on Sunday morning, could we be living a much greater love for one another signaled by our empty streets and silent church buildings?
 
In this time of exhaustion, fear and loss there is opportunity.
 
While the pandemic is still with us, this continues to be an opportunity that we train for on all those ordinary days. We train to hold steady to GOD in the face of exhaustion, fear, and loss.  To be the hands and feet of Jesus even if those hands and feet must stay within the four walls of our homes for now.
 
I live in awe and delight seeing the many ways my new Conference faith family continues to work to support one another, to discern and discover ministry interventions for this time of pandemic and to do the simple work of showing up each day to serve.
 
This is also a time to prepare wisely as our own shelter in place guidelines begin to ease.  
 
California-Nevada Conference staff with the help of pastors and lay leaders are developing updates to our existing local church COVID-19 protocols as we think together about gradually opening up when the time is right so we will have steps in place to keep us safe.  We are testing those now.
 
As from the start in March, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño and Conference leaders are listening closely to state, county and local government and public health officials for next steps – whatever they may be and whenever they might come.     
 
Until that time, I am living in the precious connection with my new Conference family and am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord; not loneliness, homeschooling or leftovers, not 24-hour news cycles, zoom or laundry mountains, not even our own plan on how this should be going or any other thing that we contrive in this time of shelter in place.
 
 
 


Selby Ewing is Director of Communications at the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.