I haven’t given much though to the fruit of the Spirit called “faithfulness” before now. Renita Weems is her book, Listening for God, prompted me to take a look. She says that fidelity or faithfulness is keeping up our commitments, doing the “things I have to do until belief returns”…”to be here not there…”showing that we are serious about touching and being touched…by grace.” I have begun to ponder how to keep faithful during times of global pandemic. To whom? and to what? and how?
It is a Sunday morning…sheltering in place…again! This is a day and time when I would usually be in the car on my way to the sanctuary, to join with the gathered ones to sing, confess, pray, savor sacred text in word, sermon and song, and to greet those I know and don’t know who have come together in Spirit to worship. Instead today I am doing cursory ablutions, curling up on one end of the couch across from my husband, the dog in between, with lighted candles, clicking on the link to our congregation’s pre-recorded worship. I have done this faithfully for all the weeks we have been sheltering in place. I read this week that 48% of churched adults in the country are not tuning into a place of worship, familiar or different at all. But I am very clear that this practice of routine is one of the things that is sustaining my getting through this time of unknowing and anxiety. I surely miss all the elements of corporate worship, but being faithful to this ritual is grounding me, keeping a place marker in my life in its Spirit journey.
I have staked out other practices of fidelity which help me know what time it is and the passing of the hours and days. I try, sometimes against all temptation to do otherwise, to care for my body–the walking, the eating healthily, the taking of meds, the breathing and stretching. I have had to learn, rather late in life to be a good steward of the body I was given, by acting on the routine practices that demonstrate my care for it. I am faithful to my best beloved ones, trying to discover and use the medium that serves each one best–Facebook, Instagram, phone or text. I miss being able to hug and pat my grands, all of them, either from actual or social distancing, but in this liminal period, I am faithful to touching them from afar. I am strongly committed to my practice of reaching out to those who are struggling with health, grief, sadness loneliness or despair, with the same attention to mode and frequency that I choose for my family. I don’t need to know how my communiques are received, because just doing this faithful act reminds and grounds me of who I am and that to which I am called.
It is the faithful routine of all kinds that is keeping me from collapsing into despair these days, especially in my journey of Spirit. I keep a new journal of gratitude right next to me all day long, to capture the unexpected graces that occur when I least expect them. My husband and I go on neighborhood “scavenger hunts” looking for beauty on our morning walks. My own reading–many from voices unfamiliar to me-:African-American, Native American, poets from all around the world–reassures me and points me to the Light. I take mindfulness moments each evening. And there is in me an ongoing stream of prayer prompted by the Spirit, inhabiting my body and mind, recalling sacred text that I can savor, that keeps my faith in the Holy One alive and in motion.
Faithfulness is a gift of the Spirit, but I am learning that it is given to me new every morning, even on the days when I have to slog through early gloom of weather or mood, and that my fidelity is made possible by the Faithfulness of One who is unfailingly faithful and keeps the energy going in me! I am grateful!