What Can I Say?


I’m going down. Praying hands up, I am sinking into despair though you would never know. Hands up, I volunteer for this and that and this. “Sure.” “Of course.” “No problem.” “Absolutely.” “Got it!”

But I don’t. Emojis cover up a multitude of realities and truths. I’m not really smiling, laughing, excited, or anxious to get started. I am tired, really tired of words like death, disease, disruption, division. I am really tired of the pile up of dead bodies and dishes and laundry and meetings and responsibilities. How many more have to die before we wash our hands and put on a mask and keep our distance? Personal space, I’m tired of the lack of space between today and tomorrow, between the kitchen and my office. Everything runs together, including my mascara.

“Have you been crying?” “No, it’s a new look I’m trying. You like it?” They would rather laugh it off than help me wipe it off. Because with all that’s happening, what can they say?

But I’m still not tired of lying to myself, of trying to make myself just keep going. This is not the last time or the last thing that I will have to do. No separation between home and work, the division of personal and professional labor, the check boxes fill my head and my home. I can’t move around in here or out there. Still, I try to go the distance, to keep up with the past pace of the pre-COVID-19 days. I try to be normal, to do the usual, to go about each day as if nothing has changed, though nothing, absolutely nothing is the same.

There is just so much more to do and say. I have to be so many more people in one day: mother, denominational leader, writer, doctoral student, teaching assistant, hall monitor and lunch lady. Who am I really anyway? Who is keeping track of all of my hats and the fact that it has been all work and no play for months now?

I’m keeping my tongue busy so that it does not confess how I really feel. I don’t want to talk about it. I’ll deal with it later. Until then, I will give you lip service.

“Yes, everything is fine.” “All is well.” “Praise the Lord!” “Amen.”

There is just so much happening all at the same time for which there is seemingly no reason or rhyme. I have all the time in the world but still don’t have time to jump these tongue hurdles. So, I mostly sit in silence with my hands up.

I will go down quietly and with a fake smile.

Talking to God use to be so much easier, but other words have gotten in the way. Words we don’t say aloud and subjects we don’t talk about. So, why did I not say something? Well, what can I say?

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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