by Charles Bonner
We are all unreliable narrators. To ourselves, to others, the stories we tell sometimes just aren’t true.
So, being with other people in church has often been a handy calibration point for me. Certainly we all experience church differently, but if all these other people showed up here, maybe there is a place for me too. This sense of belonging, of shared experience and human connection, is probably one of the most valuable things that NDPC offers to its congregants.
Even so, in the “before” times, Sunday school was not a big draw for me, mostly due to extreme morning inertia. But when the pandemic began, I sleepily stumbled into the Sunday school parenting class online. I think it was first just an instinct to check in with other people navigating the same unknowns we were all encountering. But soon, my wife and I began to look forward to the meetings as a rare time to be real with ourselves and others about whatever we were experiencing, sometimes related to the pandemic, sometimes not. And it never mattered how groggy I was; someone else with more hair always looked groggier.
The weeks turned into months, and the class became a new waypoint in the week. Some folks were frustrated by the separation as it grew old, but over time talking through a screen became second nature. We had created a space there for reflection and sharing that just didn’t exist in any other part of the week. The paradox of distance — there is something about sitting in your own home, mediated by a screen, that allows you to talk unguardedly, with spontaneous candor. And there is always a chance to exchange commentary with (or be laughed at by) your partner while you’re on mute. I think we all experienced this in some way — I learned about my peers’ past and present joys and suffering that I had never known or suspected. Every Sunday, I felt grateful and energized; these are very special people I get to spend time with.
I don’t know what the next year will bring. I already miss the slowed-down social rhythms that the pandemic brought. Still, I look forward to seeing these folks again in person, hoping to muster the courage to honor the fellowship we created through little boxes on screens in each other’s homes. Sunday school is over, and the pandemic may be ending, but our need for each other is not.
The NDPC Parenting Class is open to all parents (and caregivers and grandparents). Email [email protected] to get connected.