By RE Susan Krehbiel
Like droplets of water, we are at once alone and together.
Many years ago, my parents gave me this necklace that they bought while traveling in Sweden. The information sheet that came with it said that it was a symbol for the Church of Sweden Abroad – a drop of water with the reflection of a small cross inside. They chose the symbol of a drop of water because, like the drop of water, they were going out into the world separately, but like a drop of water they are part of a body of water. I always thought of this as interesting imagery. While I have heard many reflections on Christians as salt and light, this is not a metaphor that I have heard anywhere else.
I have quite a collection of cross necklaces that I have received as gifts. With this particular pendant I find that it takes on different meanings for me depending on the liturgical calendar and what is happening in my life. When I wear it during Lent or difficult periods of my life, I think of it as a teardrop, remembering that God suffers with us, and even cries with us.
This week the water drop image brings to mind the new phrase “alone together.” Have you heard it? As in, “we are alone together in our different homes during this quarantine.” Drops of water that have been together, gathered into the same pool, the same font of Christian community, now scattered into our individual homes. And yet still part of that same body of water. Like the Spring rain falling outside my window that will flow across my backyard, some joining with other streams while other drops of rain are diverted into different branches and rivulets. Separate paths but all part of one common source.
Thinking about the rain led me to read and reflect on the great flood in Genesis 7. After all who should be able to empathize with us more than Noah and his family stuck in that big ark! And before even opening my Bible I thought about how this week is about 40 days after we started this social isolation so maybe Noah has something to teach us about being cooped up inside. (If nothing else I can be thankful that I am not shut up inside with an ark full of animals!)
There it is in Genesis 7: 12 – “ The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” That’s the time frame that has always stuck with me – 40 days and nights. So, imagine my surprise to read all the way through the chapter to find this in verse 24: And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days . Wait, what? 150 days? It rained 40 days and took another 150 days for the water to subside. Can you imagine Noah on day 41 – “Oh thank God that the rain has stopped!” And then, on day 42 – “How much longer, Lord? How much longer?”
And here we are, after weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic storm that has swept over our lives, I find myself also asking “how much longer, Lord?” It seems that the rain is slowing but the waters have yet to begin receding. We stand on the deck of the Ark, surveying the water all around us wondering what lies ahead (or underneath). We don’t know how long it will take for these waters to subside. And yet we know that when it does there will be things that have changed, hopefully for the better. And we know, like in the Hebrew scriptures, there will be another chapter and there will be a rainbow to remind us of God’s love for us and faithfulness to us. Or, as the designer of the water drop pendant notes – the cross is reflected within the drop of water “to remind us of Christ, the source of life itself.”
And for now, we are alone together.
Let Us Pray
O Holy God, our creator, redeemer and sustainer. We lift up to You all who are suffer from pain or anxieties, that you may comfort them with your loving touch. May this time of disruption in our lives and in our world deliver us into a new way of living and being. Help us to let go of that which does not serve us or You. And may your Spirit wash over us, cleansing us of despair and filling us with perseverance for the days ahead. Amen.
Ms. Susan Krehbiel serves part-time as the Social Justice Consultant with the Presbytery of Baltimore where she supports the Presbytery’s initiatives under the umbrella of the Commission on Reconciliation: partnerships with Cuba, Guatemala and Dakota, and the Dismantling Racism training. She also serves part-time for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance as the Associate for Refugees and Asylum where she is responsible for directing PDA’s support to Mid Councils, local congregations and national partners in refugee-related ministries. Susan was raised in the Presbyterian Church and is an ordained ruling elder with 30 years non-profit experience. She is a member of Catonsville Presbyterian Church along with her husband, Norman Lazarus.