The Half of It

by Kirsten Patterson

June 10, 2020


Coronavirus and the quarantine have been a season of halves for me. In the initial phase of the crisis, I was constantly interrupted midway between one task and another—making half of my bed before rushing off to answer half of an email, washing half of the dishes before being interrupted to assist with half of a math lesson, reading half of a news article before resuming the endless scrolling looking for information and answers. I felt like I had half a brain.

And then the cleaving began . . . the gaps widening between the haves and the have nots, all the fractures across the political spectrum, those on the front lines and those working from home in their living rooms, those who had seen death first hand and those who had not. The fault lines ran straight through families and friends, churches and workplaces, and it seemed to me that every conversation was a careful dance.

In this strangely splintered world, I have longed and prayed for something whole to emerge. A whole new me, deftly balancing my roles and relationships, rising early to exercise, study and pray. A whole new family centered on love and selflessness; a community bent on surviving and thriving together, built on sacrifice and generosity; a country standing strong together and carrying the vulnerable and weak. There seemed to be so much potential—a new world glimmering and shining, tantalizing on the horizon.

And then our country erupted again in old angers and fears, injustice and hatred. As a body of believers, chosen and redeemed through grace alone, I’ve been dismayed to hear and read dialogue centered on our “rights,” and not in the gifting of rights to others or the laying down of our lives, but in our determined exercise of our own. And let me hasten to add that not one of us, least of all me, is above the fray . . . there is no disinterested third party here. This body of believers, fearfully and wonderfully made by Christ, is tearing itself apart, the arms defying the legs, the mouth declaring the eyes blind. Maybe this is not new, but in this season it feels especially violent.

As I wrestled with all of this, I watched Albert Tate’s Facebook live devotional from May 27. Every morning he’s been having a “family conversation” with his church and anyone who wants to join. This day he turned to the issues roiling our nation, and he pointed to two questions God asks of his human creations when they have fallen to temptation and sinned. To Adam and Eve he asks—where are you? And to Cain—where is your brother?

As we contemplate the days and weeks and months that lie ahead in this crisis, in a world where we don’t know the half of what the future holds and our brothers and sisters are on each side of every dividing line, may we hear God asking of us: Where are you, beloved child? And where is your brother?

And may our answers move us toward wholeness and healing.

Kirsten is married to Chris and has two delightful distance learners at home and a dog that more closely resembles a rug with four legs. During quarantine, she has spent an inordinate amount of time reading, weeding and consuming Jelly Bean Belly Flops (not necessarily in that order).