I listened to the "video church" my mom's pastor does. (They are not going back to in-person until October, but then, the case load there is higher and worse, and it's a higher-density population, than my town). A few thoughts:
The children's message was about distractions and getting distracted, and at the end, the woman doing it (from her home, a lot of this stuff is pre-videoed and inserted into the sermon) spoke of "good distractions" and how we should ask for those and wow, that hit me hard.
I miss having good distractions. Just the simple little things that make life worth living - leaning on the doorframe of a colleague's office door and shooting the bull with them - not talking about anything to do with work. Now, we mostly do stuff over e-mail and it feels cold and official and not-right to clog it up with more personal stuff. In fact, my one colleague who is fully off-campus (I think they have a heart issue and that's why they're being extra cautious), I have not really spoken to in MONTHS and this is someone I regarded as a friend and it's kind of awful. Or things like potlucks at church. Or going antiquing. Or literally lingering in a grocery store instead of doing it as kind of a speed-run where I avoid aisles that have people bunched up in them until those people have moved on.
The hymn - they had the organist play, she doesn't every week now - was The God of Abraham Praise, which is one I've always liked, both because of its minor (? maybe I'm misinterpreting) modality and the slightly archaic or foreign sentence structure - some of the lines almost sound plucked from a different language that uses an inverted phrase structure relative to English)
(OH! It's an adaptation of a Jewish song (I am not sure if Jewish people would want their sacred songs called hymns) and was originally in Hebrew, so that explains why some of the syntax is a little different from standard English. It's also possible what I am hearing as a "minor mode" is actually a totally different mode not used in European music much....)
I tried to sing along - they invite us to - but my voice sounded so thin and crackly I almost gave up. I miss singing in church; I hope someday - probably not for years at this point but maybe someday - I will be able to again. My voice on its own is terrible; with others to blend and drown it out a little I don't hear its flaws. And there's probably something metaphorical in that - and why isolation has worn on me so badly; I don't have other people to kind of sand off my rough edges or to distract me from the darker parts of my personality.
The lectionary reading for today was the burning bush. The main theme here being, what if stuff shows up that is meaningful, and we don't see it? The minister referenced the story (which I remember) of Joshua Bell going into a subway station and playing Bach on his violin, and how few people stopped to listen, and those were mostly children. Though I would say, as a tired old adult - how many of the adults who hurried by him were people who had to get to work, who'd be chewed out or even fired if they showed up late. Or how many were on the way to a doctor's appointment where they'd not be seen if they were late? I suspect a lot of us do get caught up in the necessities of living and don't see the "beauty," but then again - if we lose our jobs we cannot conjure loaves and fishes from nothing to feed our family, and if we don't get our sick child to the doctor on time and the child dies, we cannot raise them from the dead. I don't know. I probably wouldn't recognize whatever passes for a burning bush in our world today at this point. (And I wonder: what, if anything, is the modern version of that? Why did people in the past get all the signs and wonders, and us modern folk, some of whom struggle to keep the faith, have....nothing? Silence. Have we lost the ability to see, or are there just no messages any more, if there ever were?)
But also, the Joshua Bell thing: how many people in their daily lives try to add a little beauty or meaning to the world, and they're overlooked and ignored, while other people busily share videos of people cursing out store managers or (in this day and age) scream at wal-mart greeters because the greeter asks them to wear a mask for everyone's protection? It seems like the people striving to tear down and create ugliness are the ones who get the press....and when you're mostly stuck and home, and you see a lot of it, you feel like the wonder and magic have gone out of the world - I was thinking yesterday of how tired I was of just staying home, and yet, at the same time, it seems people have gotten so uncaring that I don't really want to go back out into the world, so there is no where left for me to find happiness.
I know: I probably have to search harder for it. But right now, I'm tired.
I hope next weekend I am (a) not so busy - the entire day yesterday was devoted to writing an exam in BlackBoard and doing the first round of grading and (b) the weather is not so deadly hot/rainy so I can get out somewhere and at least walk around a little in nature.
I am feeling what some people have referred to as the "third quarter phenomenon" hard today, even as I know we're not remotely near the third quarter of this yet. I really wish for a respite, for some good news, for something enjoyable.
I should finish my piano practice for the day and do a workout and then maybe I can go and cut quilt blocks, I haven't worked on quilts for a very long time
Edited to add: this song came across my playlist while I was doing my workout. I still have much love for it but WOW does it hit me differently than it did a year or so ago:
(And yes, I kind of prefer the "updated" or whatever you want to call it version, with an older - and apparently, nearing the end of his life, from Parkinson's - Dean Ford)