As I write, I am in Ohio, sorting through my father’s old letters, clearing out his old office at Wright State University, and helping my stepmom pick up the pieces of a world that was upended by COVID-19. I suppose I am not quite done processing yet, either. Two months ago, my father became a statistic; he is one of the 562,000 people who died from COVID-19 in the US, and 2.94 million in the world. I never thought it could happen to us.
There is a surprising sense of solidarity when losing a loved one in a pandemic. My family and I were touched as we recently walked through the Salford Luminary Walk of Remembrance and Hope, where each luminary represented the deaths of 1,000 people in the US and the deaths of 5,018 people around the world due to COVID-19. We are not alone, both in the fact that we share a sense of loss with others, but also that there is a deep sense that God is sustaining us, even when I feel a void within myself.
Despite my loss, I have much to be thankful for: my job is steady, my housing is secure, and my wife is available to help our school-age kids to thrive in virtual school. My son will only remember what he lived through by reading it in history books many years from now. The toughest decision I had to make is whether to refinance my house. First world problems.
It is painfully clear how this pandemic has not hit all people equally. I am so thankful that the Mosaic Conference Shalom Fund exists to, in some way, give opportunities for people like me to give to people who need help in a tangible way. I see the ways in which the Shalom Fund has enabled congregations like Nations Worship Center (Philadelphia, PA) to serve 40 bags a week to neighbors in need, and Ripple Inc. in Allentown, PA to serve 600 meals a week. I see how Crossroads Community Center creates safe Learning Pods for North Philadelphia youth. Still, I hear the words of Pastor Jaye Lindo, “Could we do more and are the needs being met?”
Reflecting on our conference retreat last year, our facilitator Calenthia Dowdy appreciated our conference’s new name, Mosaic, but also warned us that we have to live up to that name. As Steve Kriss and others have shared, “We are living into our new name. We are still becoming Mosaic. We are still becoming.” I feel like we are seeing glimpses of this coming into fruition as we continue to support each other as different pieces, in our multi-faceted conference community.
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)