I have a vivid memory of listening to Joani’s sermon the first Sunday of our quarantine, admittedly while I cleaned our house and the boys napped. Anyone else remember not multitasking? But what I mostly remember was how comforting it was to listen to her familiar voice. She encouraged us to think of the hardest thing we had ever experienced and remember how we got through it. Joani encouraged us to tap into the skills we used to cope then to cope with this new difficult experience. So I started to think about what the hardest thing I had ever experienced.
For me, this is without question, the weeks following our son James’ birth. Pretty much the minute James was born, we knew something was wrong. His first breaths were more like grunts and he was immediately whisked to the NICU. This was quite a surprise since all of our prenatal testing had led us to expect that we were having a healthy baby. But it turned out that James was born with a congenital heart defect. And so, we were transferred to a bigger hospital and waited for him to have surgery. Watching newborn James breathe through a respirator and eat through a tube for two weeks was a different kind of waiting. A heavy kind of waiting. But it was a kind of waiting with hope on the other side. The surgery would likely be a success. He should live a normal life. Nurses assured me that he would run around, play sports and drive me crazy. And they were right. James went home just a couple days after he had surgery eating and breathing on his own.
I don’t really remember how I coped during this time. I know that our parents were there. I know that people prayed for us. I mostly remember sitting, waiting and looking at him. But what I really think about when I think about that experience, is the meaning I made from it. Prior to this experience, a priest mentor once suggested to me that in life we are all in a cycle of death and resurrection. This concept never clicked for me until James was born. I finally knew what he meant. We had experienced death and resurrection in those two weeks. Our dream of having a healthy child and that diaper-television -commercial birth experience had to die, but our son, James was resurrected. We got the chance to be a family, and he has the chance to live his life.
And now that we find ourselves in another time death and resurrection, I think about this experience often. Now most of us must wait to see loved ones. To go to places we love. To go back to work or school. We have had to let some dreams die. Dreams of big family events like graduations or weddings. For some of us it might feel like we had to let our whole lives go. So now we have to wait for what our resurrection will look like. I am not sure what this new world will look like. But I do know that, there is resurrection on the other side for us. So my prayer for all of us during this quarantine is that we can live into this time of deep waiting knowing that hope and resurrection wait for us on the other side. Amen.
— Grace Pratt, May 2020 (preached at Episcopal High School Chapel)
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog