As I reflect on these past few years, in this season that never seems to end, the years are a tumble of continued change, loss, and uncertainty. Each person is experiencing these years differently. I know that good things have happened in all our lives, yet there is a heaviness that is with us. The pandemic has heightened our awareness of death and suffering and of injustice and brokenness.
Seventeen years ago, on the eve of my best friend’s surgery to remove a tumor in her shoulder, God gave me a vision of an eagle soaring and the accompanying verses in Isaiah 40:29-31.
As the 27th chapter of Deuteronomy begins, Moses has assembled Israel on the plains of Moab for a second announcement of their covenant with Yahweh. He outlines the blessings (or curses) the people should expect based upon their faithfulness (or unfaithfulness) to the covenant.
“Son, think about what you are doing, or you will lose a finger,” were my words to Kevin Jr., who was holding a hand saw. My 11-year-old son and I were cutting down trees in our backyard and my encouragement was to think carefully about the task at hand.
As a long-distance runner in college, there were a couple of times I ran to a different town, which was about ten miles away. The excitement was there to run to the next town; however, fatigue set in so I needed a ride back from a friend.
It’s back-to-school time, one of my favorite seasons of the year. I enjoy this special time of the year when we celebrate learning and the potential for growth in knowledge. As a Christian instruction librarian, however, the season comes with its pitfalls. Self-assured and self-reliant, I flit between classrooms flaunting the ease of using online resources, seamlessly showcasing research skills to students and faculty. Inevitably, thank you notes full of profuse praise follow my visit, which I store in an “atta girl” folder in my email. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but, in a shallow attempt to earn their trust, I sure act like I do when I want to impress faculty and students with my capabilities.
In this life, it is a given that we shall encounter problems, calamities, troubles, and pandemics. We have been told that, “… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). I get comfort from this word every time I look at the news, every time I learn of the passing on of a loved one, and every time I am on the verge of giving up due to the pressures of workplace issues and family predicaments. Losing several relatives within a space of a year led me to reflect a bit, and reading this verse gave me courage to spare a minute or two to help students in similar positions of pressure and loss.
The pandemic has been extraordinary to us in many aspects. In my tiny little world, it has been by far the busiest professionally, given all the work pivoting to online information literacy teaching and reference support. Living by myself, I sometimes struggle with the feeling of isolation, while having to deal with a new chronic pain condition. Life has not been very easy. I remember praying to the Lord for the strength and wisdom I needed to go through each day.
This last year has brought many weeks and months of uncertainty for everyone. The pandemic changed how everything was to operate within our libraries, workplaces, and even homes. My sense of communication changed dramatically, without the cues from body language seen when communicating face to face. And, of course, let’s not forget heated elections and world news.