By Chaplain Nicholaus Slater
As I think and reflect on my day, I am a bit transfixed by my emotions of anger and grief. As a chaplain, I’m very good at identifying emotions, especially my own. As a person and as a human, I’m not always very good at knowing what to do with these emotions.
As I reflect on my anger, frustration, and grief, I recognize it’s not directed so much at people as it is the situation our community finds itself in. I am angry and frustrated and sad about some of the changes that will undoubtedly take place and angry and frustrated and sad that I don’t know exactly what this will look like, and I am angry, frustrated and sad that I don’t know for how long these changes will remain. I understand the reasoning, health concerns, and risk management. But I also understand the loss that this community will experience; The loss of volunteers and their irreplaceable presence, the loss of social opportunities and engagement, and the loss of relationships with family and with one another.
This folks, is sin. It is not necessarily a sin we are committing upon one another, but rather a sinful condition that we are experiencing together. We are being physically, emotionally, and spiritually separated from one another, and so in some ways are being separated from God. I am angry and frustrated about the presence of this sin in this community (and outside of it). I’m a bit fearful of it. And I’m greatly saddened about it. It stinks, it’s painful, and it’s sad.
But this is why we need a loving and merciful God of peace, and this is precisely where our merciful God of peace finds and meets us. As I feel and hear the frustrations, the fears, the anxieties beginning to bubble, I am also not so gently reminded of my inadequate condition. I can’t do this on my own. We can’t do this on our own. We need God.
The good news for us is that even as we undergo some changes around the community, God does not change. God is and always will be a permanent fixture in our community. And God will continue to shine and reflect God’s light into our campus and community, and through our campus and community. God will use residents to encourage and support the staff through juggling additional responsibilities and changing responsibilities. God will use residents to gift our community with wisdom and perspective. God will use staff to energize and reimagine life within our new reality. God will use staff to ensure and protect the health of our community. God will use us all together to remind us that God is active in the midst of our community and is continuing to shine God’s light and goodness; Shining his light and goodness to lift us all, shining His light and goodness to illuminate our future and our path together.
The season of lent culminates with Jesus putting himself on the cross, an act which draws all sin and darkness, all brokenness away from creation and towards him, towards the cross. I’m hopeful that as we as a community journey together through Lent, and follow Jesus’ journey to the cross, we might be able to gather at the foot of the cross and have the sin that presently permeates our community lifted out of our lives.
I lament the sin and brokenness our community is experiencing. I mourn the loss of volunteers, visitors, and the blessings they provide. But I remain thankful for our community. I am grateful that God is very present light, shining and reflecting to our community and through our community. I am thankful that God remains a very present help in times of trouble. I am thankful that God is strengthening our leaders to vision what a healthy community looks like. I am thankful that God is using our staff to be his hands and feet so we can experience his light and goodness physically. I am thankful that God is reflecting his light through our residents to remind us of why we are community together. But most notably of all, I remain thankful that God’s work on the cross is always followed by God’s work in the resurrection. The harsh and hard reality of Good Friday is always followed by the joy and life if Easter Sunday.