By Emily Shull
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In the midst of anxiety, frustration and seemingly endless uncertainty, God is there. If you’re anything like me, life in a time of Covid revolves around childcare, news consumption and swiss cake rolls. Through it all, my Monday night ladies bible study has actually been Zooming much more than we were ever able to meet in person. It has been such a blessing. Personal prayer is vital but when I’m anxious, it can become almost impossible to quiet the endless loop about how things could go wrong. Luckily, this week’s reading has great advice–for goodness sake, don’t go it alone!
The most important wisdom I have gained this year is to find and cling to a small group who can support you in prayer and offer a little tea and sympathy. So, on Mondays, I see my girlfriends on my laptop screen and they update me on home and work and we typically go over the upcoming Sunday readings together. This week, we may repeat our pattern of breaking down the school board meeting instead (we’re all parents of elementary kids so it’s nice to obsess together rather than separately). There is always prayer, commiseration, accountability and the joy of being with the ones we love (and their kids, spouses and pets who are always finding ways to break into those little boxes on the screen). The Church is always big enough to carry us and small enough to reach us when we need her most.
How can you find your tribe? I’ve found that there’s a community waiting if you’re brave enough to ask. I’ve been a part of a small faith group in some form since my senior year of high school (2002). Then it was a weekly 7:15 a.m. prayer and music group led by two adults from my parish. I still can’t believe I got up for this. I lived 7 or 8 minutes from school and I had life perfectly timed–in the car by 7:50 meant I could be in my seat for first period by 8. I was rarely up earlier than 7:15 a.m. but another student asked me to try out this prayer group and I can only account for my presence through the work of the Holy Spirit and the love of the two adult leaders. I remember them as deeply uncool to my high school mind which is a great comfort as I try to engage teens now. In college I tried many groups, but settled into a pattern I’d continue–find a group of holy imperfect women who are crazy fun to hang out with. I found that group again through grad school and finally at the Newman Center when my family moved back to Columbia about seven years ago. In St. Louis, being together meant long trips in the car with a baby and every baby item I owned in the trunk. Now it means dealing with tech problems. It took time to leave each group behind and find the next, but if I was willing to put myself out there and do the leg work, it came together.