“The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” -Exodus 15:2 (NRSV)
This verse from Exodus is part of a longer hymn sung on the banks of the Red Sea to honor God for delivering the Israelites from the Egyptian army. Whatever doubts the Israelites had about God’s power to save, or Moses’ legitimacy as a leader, were washed away with their enemies. Today, COVID is a worldwide enemy, leading to last year’s shutdown. This event didn’t hit me as hard as it did many others, because I had already been isolated for a long time. A slow-to-heal broken foot and a life-threatening virus plus pneumonia had kept me either in the hospital or at home for about 16 months. So I segued right into the COVID isolation. The thing about being isolated is that it opens up the space and time an introvert like me craves. While regretting the loss of familiar routines and personal connections, I also welcomed the calm, the quiet, and the blank pages in my calendar. Time had slowed down, so I could too. I passed that time in much the same way through both periods: read books, watched old movies, made a baby sweater and two quilts, and did rehab exercises. When Zoom kicked in, I renewed connections. But what actually sustained and stabilized me, what gave a framework to each day and renewed my spirit was my spiritual practice. I re-kindled my former habit of morning prayer, spiritual reading, and meditation. Reading and reflecting on the way God works in the world, becoming more aware of that Holy Presence, became my real salvation. Sitting by the window I could watch the seasons change as my thoughts about “grit and grace” and God organized themselves, or just floated away like clouds, leaving a sense of peace and gratitude. When events set me back, I leaned on God, even more, relying on his strength and might where mine failed. God’s faithfulness saved me from the plague of darkness, weakness, frustration, and fear, and brought me to a brighter day.
Holy Presence, renew me each day. Be the light on my path, the fire in my soul, the hope in my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.