And now for your Grace Notes installment for December 30, 2020…
An Appeal to the Weary
By Steven Norris
In late November, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, penned an opinion piece in the New York Times, where she reflected on the impact of a reporter’s question: “Are you OK?” I’ve wondered about that question, and its cousin — “How are you doing?” — frequently in the weeks since. How would I answer?
“Tired” doesn’t quite fit. I know tired. Tired is that feeling after a poor night’s sleep that things aren’t working like you want them to during the day. You are not as sharp as you typically are. Your body is a bit sluggish. It’s not that.
“Exhausted” isn’t quite right either. Exhausted falls hard on the heels of a full day of physical labor. I remember such a feeling well from working hot summer days on my family’s farm. After bailing and slinging hay from dawn to dusk, I would collapse on the couch with almost no energy left in the tank. That’s “exhausted.”
No, this is different. For the first time in my life, “weary” might be the appropriate word to describe this feeling. Rather than a symptom of the body, weary describes the state of one’s mind, heart, and soul.
Here’s the rub: work days always have an end. There is no end in sight for our current predicament, however. The start of wide-spread vaccinations brings a sense of hope, but our local resources are once again being taxed to their limits. Hospitals, churches, organizations, and businesses are being asked to reconsider current policies for the good of the wider community. We are moving into some of the worst conditions yet for this pandemic. “Weary” might be exactly the right term for the feelings I have this week.
What is one to do in such a situation? Where do we turn when weariness creeps into the bones? Upon what resources do we draw as people of faith for the task that still lies before us?
In the scriptures we read, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” (Galatians 6:9-10).
It helps me to remember that we are not the first generation to face such a task. Throughout history, people of faith have endured persecution, martyrdom, plague, famine, and any number of other trials that make our current circumstances pale in comparison. They endured by surrendering to a power bigger than themselves — the power of the Spirit of God. They survived by leaning on one another and drawing on the collective wisdom and strength of community.
In my own weariness, the temptation is to withdraw, hunker down, and look out for me and mine. However, now is not the time for rampant individualism. We need each other more than ever.
Therefore, let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us not grow weary making the next right choice. Let us trust the Spirit’s power to lead us collectively to the next step. Most all, let us not grow weary, for a great harvest awaits us on the horizon’s edge.