New Perspectives: In a Word by Rev. Heather McCarrel

While at a meeting recently, all those present were asked, “If you could describe your experience of the pandemic in one word, what would that word be?”

I fumbled badly and it took me several words to finally conclude that the one word would be “faith”.  It was by faith that I journeyed the pandemic.

This faith wasn’t a store bought faith with easy answers and platitudes printed on pretty cards. It wasn’t a faith that made the journey clear; there were twists, turns, and times of deep uncertainty.  As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” It certainly was a faith of unseen steps.

As I reflect on the past two years, I clearly see times when I riled against God, questioning God’s wisdom and presence and also times when I sat in silence refusing to meet God even in prayer. It takes a deep faith to turn to God and admit disappointment and discouragement in God’s seemingly lack of interest or care.  That was the kind of faith that held me during this difficult time, an honest faith that dared to turn toward God demanding answers and when receiving none; returning again to what seemed like a one- sided conversation.

Ironically, my faith deepened in those silent moments and, now as I look back, it is with gratitude that, despite the profound difficulties, I experienced God’s presence in more subtle and unseen ways.  I suspect this dark time steeped me in God’s ways of steadfastness and endurance.

It was with this faith that I firmly put my feet on the floor every morning and stepped into each day.  I deliberately chose faith over fear even when choosing faith seemed ridiculous.  “Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”  (Henry Ward Beecher) and I chose the handle of faith and it has made all the difference.

What one word would you use to describe your experience of the pandemic?