Pandemics, Prayers, Pronouns, and also Dumpsters
One day last fall, I left my apartment and as I was heading to my car I noticed THE DUMPSTER WAS GONE. Someone had taken the giant green Dumpster where my entire building puts our trash. A quick scan of the neighboring buildings confirmed my worst fear. All the Dumpsters were gone!! What was I going to do with my trash? What was everyone going to do with their trash? I fretted and stressed all day. In fact, for the next 24 hours, as my kitchen trashcan’s garbage level inched toward the rim, my anxiety increased. This is ridiculous, I thought. It’s such a small thing, but this is going to be the thing that pushes me over the edge!
I’ll spare you the introspective details, but that is the day I realized how badly I handle things that are completely out of my control. My landlord chose to let us tenants sweat it out (or maybe just me) for 24 hours before letting us know that they were merely switching Dumpster companies and new ones would be delivered the following day. Nice. They could have told us that before they took the old ones away. Sadistic bastards.
So today, as I write this, the world is in chaos, countries are locking down, people all over the world are sick and dying. Businesses are closing, people are panicking and buying up toilet paper and tuna fish by the trunk load. Amid all the madness, of course I am worried. All of this is completely out of my control.
I am scared for my mother and son who have asthma. I fear for my kids who suffer from anxiety on a good day and now are facing some serious challenges to their mental health. I am scared for myself because I really like to breathe.
I was brought up to pray. “Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you.”
Of course in times like this, I want to pray. So, I begin. God, keep me healthy, keep my children healthy, and my parents, too.
I can hardly get the words out because my head is flooded with images I’ve seen on the news of those who are not healthy or safe. Images of hospital hallways lined with people struggling to breathe and doctors and nurses so exhausted they can barely stand.
How can I pray, “Keep me healthy” when I know thousands upon thousands most certainly will die? How can I pray, “Help my food to last long enough,” when thousands upon thousands have no resources to stockpile food?
How can I pray at all??
I went to bed last night, not praying, just sort of fretting in my sleep. Then this morning I woke up with the Lord’s Prayer running through my head.
“Our Father, which art in heaven… Give us this day our daily bread… Deliver us from evil…”
Our. Us. When Jesus provided a template for prayer, the pronouns were plural. This helps. This matters. We are in this together, we humans. This is no time for “me” prayers. It’s a time to pray for “us.”