Hazy Vision

Drive-in worship makes me smile for long times. It’s still funny to me to say that “this is Nanette and Kyle, coming to you at 87.9 on your FM dial.” How much more “old-timey” can we get? And then to be on the roof. I’m guessing when the architects planned that flat place over the children’s classrooms on the north side of the building, there wasn’t even one thought that at some point preachers would be standing on it talking to a parking lot with very well-parked cars. We learned a little from the first time. Tents placed over the technology and instruments mean that they stay happy and making appropriate sounds. When I came down to my office to cool off after the service, I noticed my eyes were burning. And for a minute I wondered if I got more sun than I thought. But then no, it was the Saharan dust cloud. They say it’s happened before, that Saharan dust has travelled over the ocean and reached all the way to the Midwest, it’s simply that this year it’s more intense. 2020. ‘Nuf said.

We have sorta forgotten the whole big deal about starting a new decade. The initial planning for sermon series moving into this year nearly all had something to do with the idea of having 20/20 vision – a renewed clarity in our faith and life, or so we thought. Little did we know. It makes sense to me now, given 2020, that the Saharan dust was more intense this year than any in recent history – so much so that it made our skies and our eyes a little hazy Sunday and Monday. 20/20 is supposed to be perfect vision, I wonder when that part is coming? Maybe in hindsight?

The EU has now banned travel to and from the United States because our way of dealing with the virus has eroded into a larger emergency than it was in March. The numbers are going up faster than previously predicted and we can’t seem to get ahold of ourselves to believe we can make a difference. The Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, and then Kansas City, Kansas came out with mask mandates starting Tuesday and then our Governor came out and expanded that to the State of Kansas starting Friday. For those who think wearing masks for a prolonged period is bad for your health, you might want to talk to a brain surgeon. They wear masks, often 10-12 hours straight for really complex surgeries, I don’t think they then die from Carbon Dioxide poisoning. At least I haven’t heard that as one of the downsides to being a brain surgeon.

It’s interesting to me how “the Greatest Generation” assimilated into wearing shirts and shoes to go into restaurants and other public spaces, but our generation can’t seem to understand protection, courtesy, and kindness for others. I guess they were willing to sacrifice for the good of society and we somehow have decided only the self counts in terms of care and concern. That’s probably more disheartening to me than nearly any other part of this. We have so lost a sense of care and concern for anyone but ourselves, that we quite literally can’t see beyond to the common good. I hear interview after interview after interview of folks saying they are choosing not to wear a mask and are willing to take the risk of getting sick. Except it’s not about putting yourself at risk or making a choice for yourself. Deciding not to wear a mask is deciding that others want to take the risk of getting sick. We primarily protect others by wearing a mask. Why can’t we understand that? We have become so privatized in our thinking, so individualistic in our living, that I’m wondering if genetically we simply don’t have the capability anymore of considering our neighbor along with ourselves.

For awhile it simply made me mad. Now it only makes me sad. And I pray for us. I really always have, but now my prayers have become much more rudimentary. I pray that we will simply open our eyes and realize there are other people in the world besides ourselves and that we are all connected. I flat out believe God is in the midst, not causing, but in the midst of everything. I think part of where God is in the midst of this, is showing us quite clearly that we are all connected, there is no place, no people, no land that isn’t experiencing this virus – can we learn from one another? Can we share and receive information? Can we recognize that if Saharan dust can make it across the ocean and into the Midwest, an isolationist way of thinking is simply not reasonable anymore. And if that’s the case, how do we best make this world and this life we share abundantly beautiful for everyone? I can’t think of a way except wanting to take care of one another and take care of our world.

The sunrise and sunsets with the Saharan dust reminded me of the sunrises and sunsets out near Medicine Lodge in the fall when the farmers would sometimes burn off the grasses or the stubble to help the ground renew itself. The smoke would lift into the air and the sunsets particularly would be amazing. They were controlled burns, and on the grasslands, the new growth would be so vividly green. Somehow it was the reminder that after that which can destroy, comes the possibility of vital new life. That’s where I try and keep my focus on the most difficult days. I do believe our churches are and will continue to experience new ways of being and doing. I also believe we may finally realize a renewed sense of care for one another and our earth. We follow a Messiah that says new life comes through death and resurrection, perhaps we are living in the middle day right now – the day of waiting and wondering and being invited to keep our faith in the most difficult time of not exactly knowing what comes next. May that faith show itself in our willingness to care for and with one another in expanding ways!