"Camarado, I Give You my Hand"
Before I became a pastor, I worked for a couple of magazines. So I am used to thinking about Valentine's Day at Thanksgiving, shamrocks in December and American flags around tax day, which sort of fits, if you think about it. And since I write this column a few days earlier than it runs, when I write "today," I am meaning your today--Thursday--not my actual today, which is likely a Monday or a Tuesday.
But when I tape our YouTube services for the church I pastor, Saint John's-on-Sand- Creek, time is particularly warped. Easter Sunday came on Thursday for me this year, as I sat alone in my sunroom recording amidst the plants. Oh, Time, you trickster!
Sometimes I look at the clock and see that it is 2pm. Other times, in sleepless times, I see that it is 4:00am and I know that friends in the UK may be sitting down to toast and jam--or worse.
In seminary they teach you about the difference between "chronos" and "kairos" time. Chronos time is like, time. On a clock. Tea at four. Cocktails at five. And so on.
Kairos is enhanced time, profound time, it's time in a timeless moment (and of course I know how loaded with contradiction that sounds, because it is). When I have been in love, there were moments I thought were entirely kairotic (a fancy-schmancy way of making kairos into an adjective) and also when I had my children--and still sometimes in private moments, listening to some composer sinking teeth into my soul's marrow unrelentingly.
But I feel kairos time all the time now.
And it's not so nice.
I'm not someone who is generally keyed into her own feelings. It's like I sense them through a scrim of existential cheesecloth and figure things out from there.
So that's what our sojourn in the Covid wilderness feels like to me.
I am reckoning I am not alone in feeling that way.
When I walk--which I do with both fervor and trepidation--I see others walking and we avoid each other and cross the street or step farther away, pariahs to each other. But then we lock eyes; we wave. Today in the park near where I live I watched a serene blue heron lakeside. A woman walked along and I signaled to her that she might see the bird. She stood still. I stood still. The bird was magnificent.
Then she walked again and I thumbed up and she thumbed up.
"Camarado, I give you my hand," I thought, summoning Walt Whitman.
And then that made me so, so sad. Because we cannot touch hands. And I missed in my bones everyone I have ever touched--my lovely daughters, my parents, my partners, my parishioners, my friends. And if you say "I love you" in your mind no one hears it any more than they can feel a non-existent touch.
I am all about social distancing. I believe in its efficacy. I believe in the discipline it requires and find foolish those who would flout it.
But this kairos time of painful isolation is teaching me something that is only a glimmer in my mind right now, only a spark of distant hope: It is that when we next break bread together, or sit on a sunny porch with iced teas or stroll in the park or lie down to rest beneath night's shadow, there will be-- again and richly--the remembered connection, the kiss of skin on skin.
I hope for the possibility and grace of our sacred, truly sacred touch.