About christopherjoiner

A husband, father, and pastor living in Franklin, Tennessee.

Love in the Time of COVID-19

I was driving yesterday. There are not many cars on the road in these days of quarantine. Suddenly, a SUV quickly came up to the rear of my car, swerved to the passing lane, and raced by me. I caught a quick glance of the driver and wondered where she could be heading so quickly at a time when everything has slowed down. Then I thought of one of my favorite pieces of literature, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This poem is the result. I share it not to make light of these very serious times, but recognizing that one of the ways we get through such times is acknowledging our full humanity, with all the complexity and beauty that entails. I share it along with a prayer for all to be healthy and whole, and in the hope that these days of “social distancing” will be filled with love.

Love in the Time of COVID-19
(with apologies to Marquez)

She drove past, easily
Triple the limit, affording me
Only a glance
Of her eyes – let’s say
Blue,
Of her hands – flashing
Nails – I’m going to say
The color of sun-dappled
Tulips,
Rushing not to the grocery
For the last roll,
Not to the theater for
The last show,
Not to the
Diner for the last
Supper,
(Go with me on this)
She careens toward
Home,
And the arms of her beloved,
Her breath catching at the thought
Of quiet,
Of the still night untroubled by
Fevered commerce,
Of time stretching out
For as long as the fever
Lasts.

Following

I am more and more convinced of the simple Christian truth that doctrine, important as it is, is only the simplest of beginnings when it comes to professing faith in Christ. Doctrine is too easily manipulated, too quickly used to draw up sides and cast stones. Doctrine is necessary, but alone…it is not enough.

Jesus did not call us to assent to doctrine. He called us to follow. Until we put our bodies where our words and thoughts are, our faith is incomplete. Until our commitments line up with our creeds, our creeds ring hollow.

Of course, none of us can follow perfectly. We respond to God’s grace and rely on God’s grace. That’s the hard truth behind the call to take up our cross and follow. It is in the cross where we find the grace that enables us to walk in the way of Christ.

In the end, I believe we who claim Christ are being formed in the shape of the cross, the shape of self-giving love. May it be so for us, for the sake of the world.

Bright Room

The sun sets in the west

(As you know).

What you may not know

Is the wisdom

Of whoever decided

To build all the houses

On our street

Westward facing,

So we might behold

In our sun-blinded, enlightened

Bedrooms something of the glory,

Each evening,

Of that first morning,

When the angels sang

And God said,

“It is good.”

A Quick Poem on the Longest Night

If it was the summer solstice

It would, even now, be shimmering,

The rocks and trees aglow,

Hiding in the light the fact that each

Day would be shorter than the next,

The darkness gaining ground.

But on this, the longest night,

The lingering darkness harbors

No illusions.

It is as dark as it can be.

Tomorrow, and the day after,

Light regains its footing,

A sign,

Surely?