Rector's Ramblings March 10, 2021
“It’s safe…by Bering Sea standards.” This line from a television show recently made me laugh. Years ago, I enjoyed watching Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, the show about the men (and a few women, now) who catch crab in the waters off Alaska. I’ve been watching again as we recently added the Discovery app to our online TV offerings, after it came as a free gift through our cell provider. Most of the crab fishermen are somewhat crazy; you have to be in order to do that kind of physical work in such dangerous conditions. In the winter season, for example, they fish, largely unprotected on deck, during storms that might have forty-foot waves. The number of things that could go wrong are staggering. Injuries are not only common, they are expected. The comment from the narrator came after a dangerous situation on deck, created by a mechanical failure, was repaired. To call any of the work on deck safe, is very much a relative term.
That’s how life feels now as we have grown…used to this pandemic. I was going to say we’ve grown comfortable, but I don’t think that’s the most accurate word. We’ve learned to live alongside the pandemic, for the most part, and as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we refer to things as being safer…by pandemic standards. Things are measured in degrees of risk. Anything we do outside our homes these days carries some degree of risk. Safety is a spectrum more than it ever has been.
I am aware of this as pandemic guidelines begin to change in a positive direction. The exciting news this past week was that the CDC has recommended that those who have had both shots of a vaccine and are past the two-week mark since their second one, could gather in small numbers with other vaccinated individuals. I don’t think I can capture just how exciting this truly is for those who have been sequestered, and in some cases scared, for the last year. Some of you reading this are living examples of this joyful progress. The CDC also indicated that there are no changes to recommendations about medium or large gatherings though. Not yet.
The indication is that there will be more good news on the horizon in the coming weeks and months as more studies are completed and results are verified. If the vaccines do indeed reduce the infection rate and transmission rate, as it seems so far that they do, life will improve quickly for those who are vaccinated. It will take many months to get back to something that feels like pre-pandemic normal, but it will come. What we face between now and then is what will likely be a gradual easing of some recommendations, and even two or three tracks for how we manage our life as this pandemic becomes more and more manageable and less and less deadly.
This week’s CDC news, for example, tells me that there will likely be different options for different groups of worshippers in the coming months. We will have different “rules” for the vaccinated, the unvaccinated, and groups that are mixed. Ironically, it will be those who were most vulnerable over the last year, who will have to be understanding about why they still have to follow certain guidelines to protect those whose vaccine status means they won’t get stuck for up to a few more months.
Early on in the pandemic, we had to do some teaching about how we all followed the recommendations in order to protect the most vulnerable. Those who were younger and less at risk were advised to change their behaviors to help protect the older and more vulnerable members of our society. Many, if not most, heeded that call, a call which is based in love. It worked, at least in part. That most vulnerable population is a changing demographic, and quickly. Now it will be the oldest among us who are protected and less at risk, while others who are younger, or who have other risk factors, step into the at-risk categories. I hope we can be patient and understand that while vaccinated groups can do some things together, there are others of us who won’t get vaccinated as quickly, which requires continued diligence and effort. We’ve gotten this far by caring for one another, and that’s what will get us to the finish line of this particular race.
We will soon announce our Easter plans. They will look a lot like Christmas Eve, in the sense that we are leaning heavily on worship in the tents, with fewer indoor opportunities. This lines up well with what we’re seeing from the survey results so far, yet someone may not get their first choice, once we announce the schedule and begin registration. The vaccine rollout and related recommendations are not coming soon enough to have much impact on guidelines and recommendations for Easter, but the good news is that we are headed in the right direction.
These next months are a test for us, in some ways. This is the beginning of the last push, so to speak. If we ease off too soon, before enough vaccines have been distributed, it could have deadly consequences. I know that it’s hardest to keep laboring when we’re already exhausted. Those injuries on those crab boats often come after long 20-hour grinds on deck when the fishermen are tired and begin to let their guard down. It’s a much safer work environment when they are rested and refreshed, at least by Bering Sea standards. The danger grows as they get weary though, regardless of the degree of safety we’re talking about. The same is true for us, I fear. Now is the time to keep our guard up.
The finish line isn’t in view yet, so we shouldn’t try to sprint to the finish only come up short. We’ve been faithful to one another for this long; we can keep doing it. The little gifts of normalcy and interaction can satisfy us along the way. Each step forward is a refreshing moment of excitement and joy that we can relish and treasure. We’ll get there if we keep on loving and caring for each other. Love for one’s neighbor is love, both on the Bering Sea and during a pandemic.
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Photo Credits: Deadliest Catch copyright, Discovery. Vaccination, Vaccination, used with permission via Dreamstime.com.