When Don and I got home from California in mid-March of 2020, we found ourselves drafted onto Team Canada. We had never signed up and as our new coaches introduced themselves, they read to us from their newly-scripted playbook. Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Bonny Henry were the head coaches who called the plays and needed only doctors, nurses, essential workers, and select others to fill necessary slots. The rest of us were to stay home and wait for a call. At first, we sat in shock, wearing red maple leaf t-shirts, and cheering on our fearless team. Between waves of confusion, grief, and loss, all we could do was light a candle in solidarity with others around the world.
Prayer soon became a natural way to name and support those carrying on the work and a way to connect with those outside our own walls other than by phone or virtual visits. Soon I had a growing list for prayer time, along with appropriate candles, inspirational readings, and music. This practice became a daily ritual while I waited for the BC or Canadian coaching team to let me play. However, the coaches wanted just one thing from me, to stay calm, safe, and kind. Like so many others, I began to experiment with planting vegetables and baking yeast dough. It was probably not the best way to prepare for the time when I hoped to be called to action, but it seemed appropriate during that time of chaos and filled the house with some life.
Age put me on the vulnerable list, and I realized it was time to take personal initiative to refocus my thoughts and questions. With new clarity regarding my place in society, I began to think creatively about what I might do, how I might be. If an invisible virus could cause a global pandemic, then perhaps invisible prayers could play a key role as well. While the one caused heartache, the other could ease that heartache and be a serum for hope. I began envisioning those supporting others as “Agents of Mercy”.
James Hollis, PhD, in his book Living an Examined Life, calls us to live a “life of enlargement not diminishment.” He is not encouraging grandiose behavior or striving for fame but rather calling us to query, “what is my soul asking of me?” We should be able to stand tall and shout back at the world: “You feel big and we can handle it, you are powerful, and we can face it.” Faith fills us with a capacity to act even when we need help ourselves. J, our pastoral elder, reminds us that even when we are scattered, we are a people. I am an elder on Highland’s team and although scattered and vulnerable like the rest of you, I know we are being summoned to a place we have never been before. In all that lies ahead, may we be agents of mercy.
--Musings by Lorraine Isaak
--Edited by Maryann Jantzen