by Catherine Malotky

Gracious God, human voices have been calling to you since you first breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. I believe that, as my creator, you have also animated me with your holy breath, and that I spring from your imagination. I believe that you love me and promise an abundant life to me and all others.

But sometimes believing is hard. Sometimes I cannot see how you are at work in me. I think that perhaps I have settled into the comfort of believing, and then something disrupts my ease, and I lose your guiding path. The pandemic has been such a time.

Being in the presence of others has become fraught with viral risk. In defense of my own safety and to protect my grandchildren who are too young to be vaccinated and my aged father, I no longer take for granted the nourishing presence of others. I miss this so much. This is indeed a time of scarcity, not abundance. My faith community has been virtual for so long (though that’s better than nothing). I miss the sound of another’s harmony behind me, sharing the peace flesh-to-flesh, and communing shoulder-to-shoulder. There are children among us who can now walk, and I’d not even known they’d been conceived and born!

During this pandemic time, my eyes have been opened to the sins of our forebears, which are now visited upon us. This is, of course, how it goes. We are not perfect, nor were they. Many of us who are white are learning how much we were not told. How could our cultural assumption about our superiority have led us down paths of dehumanization, human enslavement, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing, not in some foreign country, but here, where we live? How could we have assumed people of color had less value than we ourselves? How could we have stolen their names, their lands, their languages and their life-ways? It is terrible to wake up to this, but wake up we must, if we are to claim your love for us and for all. It is a scarce time, a time of grieving and of yearning to make whole.

Amid these viral years, we have also watched the earth push back. It is the natural consequence of the imbalance we have created for the sake of wealth and progress, which has been forced upon our air, oceans, forests and creatures. How many “natural” disasters can our economy absorb, much less our families and our social order? Fire, wind and water remind us that the earth is more powerful than any of us, though we have been blind to this truth. Will we survive our own hubris? Will we be willing to change our carbon use for the sake of our grandchildren’s health and thriving?

Can we believe that you, God, promise abundant life, even now? If we do believe, what joy might be ours? What might we find courage to change? How much better will our lives be if we build them on the foundation of your love for all creation, including humankind? Teach us to trust you and the beauty of what you have created among and within us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Rev. Catherine Malotky is an ELCA pastor, retired from full-time paid work for the sake of dear relationships and interests.

This article is from the March/April 2022 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather