Are You Making Your Rent? Your Mortgage?

Progressive Theology Twitter is going nuts … I dove in … probably shouldn’t have. The people getting exercised over a post about humility: how many of them serve small churches that may not survive this awful time? How much does that fear underlie their vehemence?

A while back, I attended a community meeting in one of the wealthy towns on route 117. There, someone whose job takes her in and out of people’s homes said this: “Some of those big houses? They’re empty. No furniture, no nothing. The people, they lost their job, they’re just hanging on, everything has been sold or repossessed.” That was before the pandemic.

The national unemployment rate is now 11%, which is good news compared to the 20% people were talking about early in the pandemic. But if we have to close back down because there is a resurgence of the disease, people will be thrown out of work again. Business will shut back down, this time for good.

One third of US households missed their rent and mortgage payments in July:

“That’s the fourth month in a row that a “historically high” number of households were unable to pay their housing bill on time and in full, up from 30% in June and 31% in May.”

Imagine what that means for the rest of the economy, the ripple effects. Or don’t bother, we will all find out soon enough.

How are you doing?

In any other time of economic cataclysm, we would gather. Right? That alone would provide some comfort. Just to have something to do and people to do it with: collecting and distributing food and clothing, working on advocacy campaigns, tutoring, planning–hell, even arguing and getting short-tempered with each other. With each other.

Now we can’t be together. We can worry alone and do our planning and organizing through our computer screens. It’s not the same, and it’s much harder. So what do you do, how do you calm and reassure yourself, once the worthy Zoom call is over.

Here is what I can think of, impractical things that have helped me in the past:

  • Write the name of something you love on a scrap of paper and carry it with you. Put your hand over it now and then.
  • Call someone to say hello. Pick someone who won’t flip out if you choke up.
  • Watch something that makes you laugh. Read something that makes you laugh. For years, The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi distracted and comforted me. What works for you? Find it, dust it off, subscribe to it, whatever it takes.
  • Do something with your hands. If you never have before, don’t be ashamed to start simple. Buy a kit, no joke. There are kits for building models, doing embroidery, painting ceramics — tell you what, I just googled “kits for home creative projects,” you do the same, see what you find. Start small and don’t be embarrassed.

Finally, use words. Don’t worry about whether your philosophical position is consistent. It’s perfectly possible to live with great inconsistency. For example, maybe you don’t believe in God. Who cares, times are tough. God knows I would have to chop my head off if I had to be consistent to get through another week. Or day. Here, try these slightly-modified-from-the-Book-of-Common-Prayer words:

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Stay with me. Help me care for the people who need me. If nobody depends on me, help me do something good for someone else. Don’t leave me. Preserve everyone who is afraid and whose economic life is endangered; give them assurance that everything turns out all right in the end; protect them from every danger to mind and body; and bring us all in safety to the end of this frightening time; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

July 15, 2020 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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