Ritual of Lament – 4th Anniversary of Covid Lockdown

Our stone ritual is different today. Typically, the movement forward and the placing of a stone is a chance for you to move your bodies, to participate, and for you to silently mark a joy, sorrow, or gratitude in your lives, lest it go unknown or unnoticed. 

Today, we are adapting the ritual to mark the 4th anniversary of the covid pandemic lockdown, something that impacted our lives individually, as a congregation, as a community, as a nation, and as a global community. Lives in large numbers were lost (and are still being lost, in much smaller numbers). 

Fear was our daily bread as we did not know, at first, how the virus might spread and did not yet have a vaccine. We kept six feet apart. We closed this building and many other places where people congregate. We did not gather in person. Our new frontlines were medical personnel and grocery workers and those who staff facilities where our elders reside, exposed to new kinds of risk and fear and burnout.

We masked, first home-sewn, then surgical masks, then N95 and KN95 if we could get our hands on them.

We learned how to unmute. We learned to love Zoom and sometimes to hate it.

We missed milestones: graduations, weddings, birthdays, births. We couldn’t be present as loved ones died and too many died alone. Some of us lost jobs, some lost homes. Some found love under these strange circumstances and others found strain in their relationships that could not be made right.  For some, the necessary isolation touched and deepened an existential loneliness.

Families with school-aged children juggled and struggled, worrying how the pandemic was impacting their children, their grandchildren, their nieces, nephews and niblings. It was a time that many would like to put behind us. It was a time that some cannot place as past because the new perplexing condition we call Long Covid has stayed, changing everything.

All of which is to say, this ritual is one of lamentation, for all that was lost. Should you choose to come forward ~ and it is, as always, okay not to, to bring your witness to those who do ~ you will find a bowl of water that has been seeded by some of our homegrown holy water collected in September and blessed by all of you. There are dishes of salt – the stuff of tears – at the base of the bowl. You are invited to add salt to the water to mark our collective and personal grief.

One way we creatures make meaning is through ritual. Let us do that now.

(this text was written by me (Karen G. Johnston) and improved by Geoff Duke.