“The Winter of Our Discontent”

 Author: Linda Kowatch


While William Shakespeare opened with those famous words in Richard III, it seems somewhat descriptive of what we have been experiencing the past 23 months. We have faced so much trauma through Covid prevention strategies, Covid-related deaths, other deaths, shootings, wildfires and other losses upon losses. We are experiencing anxiety like many of us have never before experienced. Is it any wonder that our children and young adults are suffering with anxiety-related illnesses and behavior?


The Ministry of Last Things is holding two forums (May 15 and 22, 9:30 to 10:15 a.m.) on “ambiguous loss” and discussing if closure is even possible surrounding these losses. This prompted me to start to reflect on my own losses during these past two years. As I dug deeper, I found that not only was I facing the biggest loss of my father through the process of Alzheimer’s and his death, but it was triggering other losses like the death of my mother 20+ years ago, the loss of our family as I knew it. Because of physical distancing I couldn’t be with my siblings or friends. I couldn’t go to campus for my seminary classes. I couldn’t go to church in person. As each recognized or unrecognized loss came, none of them left. They just compounded on one another. What do we do with all that loss?


In my “ordained” wisdom I don’t have all the answers, but I can give testimony to God’s faithfulness in my life. On March 20, 2022 they locked me (and all families) out of my dad’s memory care facility. I was devastated. I knew I might never see my dad again. The following week my seminary offered a time to gather online and talk about what was happening in our worlds due to Covid. I didn’t want to go because I was frustrated, angry and scared. I was questioning God and the seminary journey. I didn’t want to go because it would take too much energy. I had more pressing matters in my life than gathering with my seminary companions. I also knew I would cry. I knew the chaplain would get it, but I would risk being “emotional” with my academic dean and classmates. What if they thought less of me because I was struggling so badly? But I logged on “just because” and joined the meeting. It was there that God met me. Through the listening eyes and hearts of the dean, the chaplain, the professors and my classmates, God’s presence and love were revealed. As I cried and shared how helpless and hopeless I felt, they sat with me . . . online. I no longer felt alone. Their presence gave flesh to the presence of God and to God’s love. Their presence gave the encouragement I needed to sustain me.


My biggest takeaway that day was that sometimes all I need to do is show up. It is so easy for me to get out of the habit of doing things that sustain me. These two years of Covid have allowed us to develop habits that steal us of really living. What habits do I need to create or reclaim so that I begin again to thrive as God intended? For me it is to make sure that I show up. When there is an opportunity to nurture the being within me, do I show up or make excuses? Maybe discussing ambiguous loss with Ministry of Last Things will help me heal. Maybe joining a grief support group or spiritual support group will reveal the presence and love of God in a more tangible way. Maybe reestablishing spiritual practices that feed my soul will empower me.


As we reflect on and venture out of “the winter of our discontent,” what do you need to start doing again to begin really living again? Like me, you might think it seems impossible, but with God all things are possible.


Ever-present and Loving God,

With you all things are possible. Give me the courage and energy to show up. Help me to create or reclaim habits that nourish my soul so that I can live the life your imagined for me and I can join you and others in creating a just world for all. Amen.




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