From the Very Rev. Kristina Maulden
This past month has been the most peculiar time I can remember. So many emotions come and go for me. There is anxiety, anger, frustration and grief. But there are other moments that have brought me laughter and joy. In our concern for each other, we often ask “How are you?” Or “How are you doing?” Unfortunately, that rote question that doesn’t seem to scratch the surface of our inner lives at all. There is so much going on inside our minds and hearts-how do we begin to share this with others? I think we need some new ways of asking. I recently came across an article that offered some alternative questions that I thought were very helpful.
The first question asked is “How are you taking care of yourself today?” I think this question leads to great conversations. What does it even mean to take care of yourself? To do this we have to pay attention to what’s going on inside our heads and our bodies. If you are caught up in circular thinking, what do you do to break the cycle? Are your thoughts on the whole good and helpful, or are they filled with regret and sadness? Maybe it is prayer that breaks into the gloomy mind and offers some peace. Maybe it is music or talking to a friend or going for a walk.
The Gospel for this coming Sunday is the story of Jesus showing up for a couple of disciples on a walk. The disciples were headed to the town of Emmaus. It was right after all that transpired concerning the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection. They were grieving and living in a very anxious system. I imagine much of their conversation was a rehearsal of all that had gone wrong and their fears of what was to come next. In the midst of their anxiety, Jesus shares this journey. He opens to them all the ways in which Scripture pointed towards the one who would have to suffer. Then, even though they really didn’t understand who it was standing in their midst, they invited him in.
I think of this story when I am confronted with long journeys of grief or other things that hurt the soul. God was very present during an anxious and fearful time. This is so important for us too. Intentionally inviting God to come in to our isolation is a wonderful form of self care. The disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. They recognized him while sitting at table with their friend. And later they reflected on how their hearts burned within them on that journey to Emmaus. We may not feel that Jesus is with us in our homes or our empty spaces, but he indeed is there. When we gather for worship, either in person or virtually, God is there. Take some time each day and walk with Jesus, either in prayer or in reading the Bible or recalling his presence in all that you do. And keep each other accountable by asking this question of self care to your friends and family. Eventually, we will move out of this anxious system. Perhaps we can learn how to connect more deeply to God and to each other on the way.