Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Grief and Uncertainty

The heaviness of being

Dear Friends,

Early yesterday morning D and I drove into downtown Philadelphia. Not the governmental center of the city, but a huge medical center of towering buildings. We parked in a huge garage and walked to the building where I had an appointment with a skin doctor. He removed some of my precious skin. Hopefully it will be the last visit for now.

What used to be a somewhat routine visit was now a Corona-Virus Visit writ large. For two weeks prior to my visit, I received multiple phone calls with instructions about what to do and not do before the visit, and what to expect when I arrived.

The streets and sidewalks were full of masked citizens coming and going, carefully avoiding close contact, perhaps smiling from time to time behind their masks. On the whole, however, most seemed grim and determined to get where they were going as quickly and safely as possible.

The heaviness of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter underscores the heaviness of being I’m feeling these days. I had an interesting conversation with a masked woman sitting near me in the waiting room. The procedure was fairly straight-forward. Masked D was relieved to see masked me coming down the escalator. Still, it all felt disembodied. Regimented though considerate, with an edge of danger in the air.

No matter what Mr. Trump or anyone else says, there is no going back to Normal. Instead, I’m treating each day as a challenge to be met, with small daily goals to keep me on-track in a trackless world without a clear finishing line.

I grieve what we’ve lost, and what we thought we had but did not. I don’t, however, grieve the call to self-reflection. How did we come to this unholy disaster? Will we be wiser if and when this pandemic is over? How will we then live?

Praying your Sabbath is filled with rest and a nagging restlessness to “hear the sound of the genuine in you.”


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 July 2020
Quote from Howard Thurman found at

Colors of Africa


red ochre seeps
through thin young veins
leaves blush

* * *

In Fall 1999 I went with D to a seminary near Nairobi, Kenya, for my fall sabbatical. D has a long history with the seminary. I’d been once before. This was my first longer-term visit.

Mom had died in February that year, 78 years old. I was still grieving, shaky and uncertain about my identity without Mom present in my life.

My teaching load was light. I facilitated my favorite seminar ever–how to reflect theologically on biblical narrative–attended seminary functions, did a little speaking and a lot of listening and travel.

Just after we arrived, we went to the fall faculty retreat at a conference center outside of Nairobi, near Mt. Kenya. D took this photo on our way back to Nairobi.

The area around and north of Nairobi is a riot of colors and lush greenery. At the very base of everything, though, is red ochre. It’s everywhere. It isn’t simply in the earth; it is the earth. It’s also the fine dust floating through the dry air, coloring the water during short and long rains, seeping into and clinging to everything. A reminder of our origins.

Psalm 103:13-14 (NRSV, slightly edited by me)

As parents have compassion for their children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear God.
For God knows how we were made;
And remembers that we are dust.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 August 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, September 1999, Ngini, Kenya

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