Clergy faith and wellness: I wept

Rev. Shelly Petz


I didn't know I had so many tears.

Today I took a walk, because I know the importance of physical activity, especially in the midst of stress and distress.

I wept.

I wept as I walked by the house of my son's music teacher, knowing that tonight would have been his school music program, in which he had the lead.

I wept as I walked by the house of the basketball coach, because I do not know when students will play sports together again.

I wept as I walked by the house of my daughter's band teacher because we won't be going to her spring band concert, and she won't get to play her solo.

I wept as I walked past the house with an RV in front of it with a sign that said, "I am a medical worker. I am self-isolating from my family, for their sake. Will you self-isolate for ours?"

I wept as I walked by the house of a high school senior, whose senior year looks nothing like she imagined.

I wept as I walked by the newly unemployed man who was out for a bike ride with his children, trying to show them love, when their world is falling apart.

I wept as I walked by the two young brothers out for a bike ride, when the youngest turned too hard into his driveway, and skid down the lane. I was the closest adult at the time, and seeing his tear-filled eyes flooded mine. I was torn between my compassion for the boy and his awareness that I was supposed to be socially distant.

I wept as I heard silence overhead, no airplanes reuniting family. No airplanes taking people on vacations, or to their work destination.

I wept as I heard the birds sing. Usually their songs of spring make my heart sing. Today, I could only weep, not knowing the song of lament within me.

I wept as I saw the woman outside her home, sitting on her porch with her head held in her hands, yearning for a moment of respite from being mom, teacher, and full-time employee.

I wept as I saw the home of the elderly couple who haven't been out of their home for a month.

I wept as I saw a child eating the free lunch that was provided, and knew it was the only meal he would eat that day.

I wept as I gave thanks for the farmers, producers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and school aids who work tirelessly so others can eat.

I wept as I talked with a woman who runs a domestic violence shelter and she said that the number of incidents has skyrocketed recently.

I wept as I remembered a Facebook post from my dear friend in NYC that read, "So this is what it feels like. Waking up every day to find out another person you know is gone."

I wept as I prayed for our family friend who is a pulmonary/critical care doctor from Kansas and has gone to serve in a Brooklyn hospital in the COVID-19 ICU. His reports are horrendous. Constant code blue calls. Not enough medicine or help. Patients, as they are dying, cannot be with their families. It is sad. Lonely. Isolating. It is a war zone.

I wept because before if someone was struggling, as a pastor, I could stand with them in their grief and pain. Now, there is a world in pain. I have never experienced pastoring in the midst of a pandemic, where everyone's world has changed, and there is so much grief. There is so much blame. There is so much pain.

I wept as I prayed for my colleagues in ministry who are exhausted...those serving in churches, in extension ministry, with college students, as chaplains, mental health workers, inside the jails.

I wept because this is the season of Easter, and death is still all around.

I wept.

Jesus wept.

Sometimes when I weep, I find my strength. Maybe someone else does too.

Rev. Shelly Petz
Clergy Faith and Wellness