"The Great Pause"
By the Reverend Canon Caleb J. Lee,
President of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of South Carolina
I was walking the dog this past weekend and I stopped to say hello to my neighbor. She and her husband are Roman Catholic and huge Notre Dame fans. Every football season their team regalia has been impressive. One year they even pressure washed the letters “ND” into their driveway just to make sure people knew who they were pulling for. It has taken me five years to get to know her. For years we would say hello to each other as we walked our dogs. Then she saw me in my collar. After that we started talking a little more and discovered that we have a lot more in common. I think she is intrigued with how close we Episcopalians are to her version of Christianity. I brought her palms on Palm Sunday. She cried.
Anyway, this past weekend I was walking my dog and my neighbor was out in her yard. I stopped to chat for a while. Like every conversation since the pandemic started there were comments like, “it is still so surreal.” “It’s just weird.” “Do you think there will be college football next fall?” “Y’all doin’ alright?” It was then that she said, “yeah, we are just trying to make the best of ‘the great pause.’”
I decided that this description might be the best I have heard so far. To a large degree the last six weeks have been a great pause in so many ways. The breakneck pace of life has been reduced to a crawl. The pause of noise and air pollution from cars and airplanes has either cleansed our air or made us appreciate the natural world a bit more. We have actually had a spring. The humidity is not here yet. Was it always this way or do I just now recognize the season? The great pause has opened my eyes to a deeper appreciation for the beauty and gift of God’s creation.
This great pause has caused us to pause our Bishop Search. Unfortunately for many this pause has had serious financial repercussions. For some, this time has actually been entry into sickness, death, or intense grief and mourning. And for others, who work on the front lines, there has been no pause but a fast forward.
But it is currently a pause for me in many ways. I have some guilt about that for sure. I know I am not the only one.
I am reminded of the Gospel account of the Resurrection from yesterday. The Road to Emmaus is a bit of a pause. It is intimate and precious time with the risen Christ. To the two disciples, it seemed like time had stopped as they were listening to Jesus on the road. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us in the road?” They were able to see the risen Lord in the pause of the evening, in the breaking of bread between strangers who were now friends.
I am reminded of my new friendship with my neighbor and how just a few months ago we were more strangers than friends. For some reason though, in this great pause, we have become more friends than strangers. My prayer for each of us in this “great pause” is to find the grace in it and to be able to see the risen Lord when he appears to us.
During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.