A new blog series each Wednesday featuring various reflections during this national pandemic.
A minister, a mother, and a graduate walk into a shop…well, not really, because it’s COVID-19 and I can’t go anywhere! That’s not to say this time hasn’t been busy. In fact, I think I have worked harder, more creatively, and intentionally than ever before. As a minister, it’s tough finding ways to engage your congregation in online worship, connect with students, enrich relationships while social distancing, reach out to seniors that don’t have computers, and teach others how to use technology not previously found within the church before. As a mother, add in the responsibility to suddenly become the substitute teacher for children that are now home 24 hours a day, checking over work, reminding them of online classes, constructing science experiments, turning in PE logs, and facilitating art class. Then, when everyone is in bed, pulling out the computer to work on your own schoolwork. For me, that meant reworking sections of my paper, editing, and finishing my Doctoral Report as a third year Doctor of Ministry candidate for graduation.
As I sat on graduation night, it was easy to think of all I was supposed to do…to walk across the stage wearing my fuzzy hat…to look out and see my family standing in the audience…to earn the title of a three hump camel! While all of these markers are important (and will happen at some date in the future), I realized the things I gained during this time mean even more to me. Instead of focusing on what didn’t happen, I have chosen to focus on what has happened. Instead of a few people watching the ceremony, my church held a surprise parade outside my home with cars honking, pool floats on the tops of vehicles, and posters hanging from windows. Instead of walking across the stage with my cohort, we gathered online to share memories of our favorite classes, and took a picture wearing our fuzzy hats. Instead of words declaring me a “three hump camel,” I was gifted custom artwork depicting three hump camels, even one wearing a ministry stole!
During this time of uncertainty, hard work, and milestones—in the middle of the chaos and muck—I am reminded of Joshua 3 as the Israelites crossed the Jordan river into the promised land. They were instructed to pick up stones from the middle of the river, out of the muck, and Joshua used them to set up an alter to praise God. These stones would be a testament to the God that saw them through. These stones would become the foundation of a new life. May these times of COVID-19, of ministry, of motherhood, and of graduation, becomes stones that point me back to God. May these times be remembered—not by the dirt that encapsulates them now—but for the pillar of promises that God will always be there to lead and guide His children into His promised land.
Allison Collier serves as associate pastor at Angier Baptist Church, Angier, North Carolina.