It wasn’t that rare an occasion for me to be grounded as a child. And it was less rare as a teenager during high school. But when I was grounded, when I was not seeing friends or getting out into the world, the real punishment would start. Not mine, but my parents’. Because as adults know, when you ground a teenager, it means you’re sort of grounded, too. There are no weekend getaways or long nights away when your teenager is grounded. In fact having a mopey, sullen teen around the house is no particular joy for parents.
Well, it feels a little like we are grounded again friends. Gatherings are limited to five persons according to the most recent determination by government officials. And though for now spiritual services can continue to meet if they are following protocols to protect attendees, in this new order, services cannot have any singing or wind instruments. There are many aspects of this new order that don’t make a lot of sense to me, and I know they don’t make a lot of sense to others. It seems at odds with the intention to allow gyms and restaurants to remain open but not parks and beaches. But what do I know?
Well, I do know something about grounding. And in some ways I do understand that the nature of parks and beaches does not allow for any supervision. It’s as if teenage T. J. is just wilding around suburban Western New York entirely unsupervised. At least in gyms and restaurants we dangerous agents of transmission can be observed, watched, and prevented from behaving in a way that is too dangerous. This is more like teenage T. J. who mopes around the house all weekend, but at least his parents know where he is. It makes sense.
But when I read the note about spiritual services not being allowed to feature singing, I paused. Something inside me for the first time felt a government getting involved…in liturgy. Never in my ministerial life had I ever considered that a state might need a place at the worship planning table. Now, for our part, we are not meeting together, so I hope we are all singing along at home at the top of our lungs. But I am imaging someone who’d planned the hymns already for this Sunday trying to figure out new ways of expressing them or a band kicking out their wind instruments.
We know this time is touching so much of our lives in deeper and deeper ways as time goes on. We are grounded at home, testing at times the limits of what homo sapiens, one of the most deeply social animals on the planet, can really handle of others or really handle alone. And parts of our lives feel like they have been robbed of the music and harmony we are so accustomed to knowing. But to quote Al Rowland from last night’s Pau Hana, “There have never been times like these before.” And hearing that from one of the people I respect and admire most almost feels like I’m freed from my grounding and embarking on a truly singular adventure…at least for today.
And may it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.