Just Keep Talking

Pray-Her

What were we talking about? My sentences are running together like my days. I lose my train of thought midway, derailed by one thing or another that was going the other way. Wanting to hitch a ride to a different time, going a different way. Words stuck in between subject and predicate during this endless interim period.

Praying during a pandemic is confusing. I don’t know who I’m talking to anymore. My faith is difficult to make out. It is hard to know what I believe. Because with more than one million dead and counting, who is God really? Who is God anyway?

But I digress and I will probably regret that last sentence. But, right now, I just need to get it out and out of my head. I’m in and out of my head. Checking out when checking in with the world is more than I can bear. Because I’ve seen and heard and experienced more suffering than is fair.

How long, O Lord, are we to go on like this? How long, my God, do you expect me to resist the temptation to tie my tongue up with words like despair and hopelessness? I don’t even want to talk about it. I give no thought for tomorrow because I fear it is more of the same.

Instead, I run away, getting my steps in at my favorite park, and get ahead of myself, thinking of what will be, of what could be, of what I should be doing right now instead of living every day inside of my house. The path is half a mile and a complete circle. I am really going nowhere. It is a cyclical conversation that finds me right back on my couch asking myself, “Now, what was I saying?”

Praying during a pandemic is like throwing words up against a wall and trying to make sense of the splatter. It is hard to make it out. What does life look like now? Because this is nothing that I have ever seen before now and it is not something that I want to see again.

The four walls of my house are closing in. My chest feels like it’s caving in. I am anxious. Breathe in. Breathe out.

My world is caving in with everything piled into our homes as I try to cram in work and school, play and rest, yard work and the hard work of relationship tending, meal prep and weekly deadlines sent to test me. Don’t they know what time we are in, that I cannot keep time, that most of the time I don’t know what day it is? Breathe in. Breathe out.

I close my eyes because prayer is the cure for my tired eyes—tired of seeing the news, tired of the virus’ body bag blues, tired of walking in these same old shoes. I close them and turn inward to the vision that God has for me and our humanity. It is not a shut off valve. Closing my eyes should not suggest that I have closed myself off from the world.

Instead, my eyelids are a hedge of protection that will prevent events from climbing into my psyche. It will stop certain sentences from taking over me. I pray words like, “Have mercy.” Or some sentences may well run off with me. Months into this pandemic, I realize that I just have to keep talking.

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and praying with her feet.

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