These are hard days. I’m not alone in this. I know that my experience is pale and muted compared to so many of my black, hispanic and Asian friends right now. I don’t get many of these days of numbness or discouragement, the sense of precariousness. I listen to conversations, take the questions I’m hearing and try to connect people to a larger frame. Age (advanced), experience, reading and many, many mistakes helps you see how to fit the pieces of the puzzle into a larger picture. But answers, as sensible as they might sound, are not were we are right in this moment. Like you, I have been in lots of Zoom conversations with leaders. So many of them are in this place of numbness, feeling vulnerable in a world that seems headed over some edge. Explanations and frameworks feel tone deaf in this moment.
This experience, which David Brooks has called “precarity”, has not come to me for a long time. It’s as if the video camera has zoomed in close up, close, close up and is stuck there. It won’t zoom out to a “bigger picture” so I can gain control with explanations and answers. I remember when this happened before. A decade ago my daughter, in her early thirties, was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. My world closed in, the camera lens closed in tight; it wouldn’t pan out to a wider perspective. I was so profoundly vulnerable. This wasn’t something I could manage or fix. I’ve been experiencing this again over these past days as I listen to people struggle to express their disorientation, confusion and precarity.
This is a time for mourning. It has a sadness with no good words to make sense of things. Even good words are out of place. In this time of lament it is inappropriate to seek quick fixes for these experiences of distress, disorientation and grief. Something has come upon us that defies big picture explanations or platitudes. We are, for a time, without words that will capture our vulnerability and disorientation. We are in the time of mourning. We have lost so much! I know this time will pass and there will come a time to dance. There will be tomorrow and a day after that … this is God’s world and we are part of God’s future. A time to mourn…a time to dance.