I got tested for covid last week. For most of Thursday, I’d been pretending that the scratch in the back of my throat was just dehydration. But with the afternoon’s in-person meeting drawing closer, I couldn’t deny it any longer. I
t really seemed like it was just a cold, brought home from daycare and generously shared among the family. Wanting to protect others, I looked into getting a rapid COVID test. No luck. The meeting would start before the results came in, so I called the chairperson to excuse myself. “No problem,” he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”
But I was worried. Just considering getting a test left me feeling like I probably should. I called my provider’s COVID line and inquired. Feeling a little ridiculous, I was grateful to the reassurance offered by the person I spoke to. Two hours later, I was sitting in a bare room, staring down a nasal swab.
In retrospect, I’m surprised at how quickly I went from near certainty about having just a cold to being scared that I’d contracted COVID. My symptoms hadn’t changed—still just a sore throat—but my perception had. By allowing myself to consider the possibility of infection it became real in a whole new way.
Over the past ten years, and the last four in particular, long-simmering and ugly realities have come to the fore in our country. Racism and white supremacy aren’t new, by any stretch, only more out in the open than they used to be. Our now-former president, by sometimes actively courting such ideologies, helped fuel that rise. By allowing these ideas onto our national stage, by encouraging our nation to consider them, they have become real and vivid in a whole new way and for a whole new set of people. The things we allow ourselves to talk about have real and lasting effects.
Less than 24 hours after I took it, my COVID test came back negative. So, too, the test for influenza. As I’d suspected from the beginning, it was just a cold. By Sunday I was feeling fine and my fear of contracting COVID had returned to its usual, elevated status.
I really want things to be that easy for our country, but I doubt they will be. The Pandora’s box of awfulness won’t be put away as easily as it’s been opened. Overcoming America’s long history of racism, caste-ism, sexism, and so many more will take concerted effort by concerned people, people like you and me. This is, I believe, the work of the people of God in our time. The Kingdom of God isn’t concerned with nothing less than the radical equality of all people; the dignity of every, single human being.
This is our call, my friends. I encourage you to take whatever emotion politics stirs in you these days and channel that into action. We’re called to join God in building a beloved community that extends to every last one of us, no matter how great or small. Now is the time.
P.S. If you’re wondering about the first step to take, consider joining folks from St. Luke’s and thousands of people of faith from all across Minnesota this Sunday afternoon at ISAIAH’s 2021 Virtual Launch. For details see “Next steps in anti-racism” below.