Covid19 Diary 4

Samuel Pepys: April 14, 1661
Easter. Lords day. In the morning towards my father’s. And by the way heard Mr. Jacomb at Ludgate, upon these words, “Christ loved you and therefore let us love one another.” And made a lazy sermon, like a presbyterian. Then to my father’s and dined there, and Dr. Fairbrother (lately come to town) with us. After dinner I went to the Temple and there heard Dr. Griffith; a good sermon for the day.

April 14, 2020

It has been such a strange Easter. Less busy in some ways; no Maundy Thursday service, for one thing; and busier in others. Trying to put together a reading of the Passion Story done by different members of the congregation was much harder than simply handing out the readings and getting them to come up to the lectern one after another. I didn’t get the final recording of one reading until late Thursday afternoon, and then cutting and pasting them, and finding images to go with them, and adding in music at a few strategic places, was all hard. Doing it all at home, and having to tell my mother over and over again that I was ‘still working, yes, still getting the services ready’ was even more difficult.

I wanted to get all the preparations for the Easter weekend done on Wednesday so that the office administrator didn’t need to come in to record me on Good Friday. Normally (Normally? We’ve been doing this for less than a month!) Friday is the day Sunday’s service is taped; getting everything done so that it could be recorded on Wednesday was a stretch.

Then I foolishly decided to put some images in the ‘sermon’ video, because it was a bit longer than usual and I thought people might get tired of just seeing me. I am certainly sick of the sight of my own face! And the sound of my own voice. Creating a video means I need to see and hear myself over, and over, and over again. Then on Sunday morning I had to hear myself for a final time, because my mother played the video to herself, loudly. But I felt fairly satisfied with it all in the end. I got some good responses on Instagram and a text message from a friend telling me she appreciated it, so I think I’m reaching more people than I usually do.

I am lucky that I am still employed; lucky that I am able to provide something that people have told me is helpful; lucky that I’m an introvert not going insane in isolation. But I’m also starting to feel stressed. Part of that is because I’ve been interviewed for two jobs over Zoom over the past couple of weeks, and I’m sure I don’t come across as well via teleconference as I would IRL. I think I’d be excellent at both jobs, one in particular, but I didn’t feel that that was how I was presenting myself on the screen. I have got second interviews in both cases, but in the first I was honestly surprised because I had felt so ‘off’. Then again, apparently there are twenty congregations without ministers in that particular Presbytery, so I’d pretty much have to have said I eat babies for them not to consider me.

After the interview with the second placement I couldn’t sleep. I am still on the anti-anxiety medication the doctor gave me for evenings a few years’ ago, and normally I sleep immediately and well. Not after that interview! There was lots of anxiety about not getting the job; and a wee bit of anxiety about all the changes that would happen in my life if I did get it. For the first time in months I had an anxiety dream about having exams for a class I hadn’t attended, and woke up in terror.

I am trying very hard to pray, ‘Your will be done’ and to leave my unemployment in God’s hands. I am trying so hard to see these interviews not as employers working out whether they want me to do a job, but as a process of mutual discernment to work out whether God is calling me to a particular ministry. But after last year, when a congregation for whom I thought I would be perfect decided not even to interview me, I have had less faith in the whole discernment process. Yes, it’s what got me to ordination and beyond, after I kept waiting for the moment when the church would knock me back. But we are all still just human beings and we can get things wrong.

Apart from all of that, over the past few weeks I have read sixteen of Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe novels and watched a lot of Foyle’s War. Comfort food for my brain all the way. I am not using this locked down time to write or read anything significant, and I’m sure I’ll look back on this time with regret when it’s over. But for now, I need comfort.

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