Who Am I Talking To?

Pray-Her

We are now six months into a global pandemic due to COVID-19. I won’t venture to mention the death toll. It will be higher by the time you read this. Someone is on their deathbed now, taking their last breath. Inhale. Exhale.

I do the same thing to keep calm. Breathe in. Breathe out.

But, it’s in the air. Masked, there is no need to cover our mouths. We are in a constant state of shock. I travel between “I can’t believe this is happening!” to “Is this really happening?” It’s a short commute, like my commute to work; I walk downstairs to my kitchen table.

It’s doing double duty, serving a dual purpose much like us. Holding dinner plates and my laptop, serving as the family hub and workstation. Napkins and post-its, salt and pepper shakers next to pens and pencils, it all goes together now. No division, no separation of my work and home life; it has all come together somehow.

Still, it feels like the world is falling apart. I look around and ask, “Who’s keeping things together?” My praying hands feel like paper clips, doing nothing more than bunching and holding pages of words together. My tongue is like a rubber band. Sometimes, even talking is a stretch. It can only hold so much, only wrap words around so much. When I pray now, so that I don’t get overwhelmed, I just say, “And such and such and such.”

Death is here in a way I have never seen. No dark figure and no black horse, Death is not lurking in the shadows. Death is wherever we are in groups. Wherever ten or more are gathered, Death may be present. It matters not the occasion or our intentions. You can go to a party or to a church service and the results will be the same.

We are allowed no mourning period because it never ends. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Death today, tomorrow, forever and ever. Amen.” The nightly news sounds more like a eulogy, celebrating an America that used to be so full of life but is no longer. And like any other death, it brings out the best and worst in us. We are fighting in the streets of Portland, Oregon and Rochester, New York, engaged in the cyclical process of grief over the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of Daniel Prude.

Bag over his face, he can’t breathe. Here we go again: Eric Garner, George Floyd, and now Daniel Prude. Now I am repeating myself. Did You hear me, God? Because they have said this before, and I did too. I am not looking up but around and wondering, “Who am I talking to?”

God with us? Well, where are You now? Because I know You saw it. Omnipresent, You cannot look away. So, who am I talking to really? God, the great wind bag, full of holy hot air? All talk, no action?

You certainly are not the God that I thought You were and Your ways are certainly a mystery. I do not understand You. I do not know You. But maybe that is the point, that I don’t realize Who I am talking to.

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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Comments

  1. I certainly can relate to all that you’re saying. The news is so disturbing, the corrupt administration, the outright murders of black people, many of them mentally ill, has taken a serious toll on my prayer life. My table is similar to yours, not work, but cards, books, laptop. It has gotten so that I’m so overwhelmed with the grief for our black brothers & sisters, the poverty, the lawlessness of the administration & police, that all I can do is pray the Lord’s Prayer, & hope that the Holy Spirit will sort out my soul’s petitions. “Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Rom 8:26 Jesus, hear our cries, Amen.

    • So well- said, Mary. Thank you for sharing in my heart hurts and the hurdles that my tongue often trips over when talking to God. Writing on prayer and talking through with persons like you has certainly been helpful.

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