Uplifting from a Distance - Reflection #1: Jade Sylvan
Like for so many others, for me this past week felt in different moments like a nightmare, a cruel practical joke, and a bad movie. At the beginning of last week, I was gearing up for the first staged readings of my thesis project for Harvard Divinity School -- a full-length, original Biblical musical that was scheduled to run to two sold out crowds at a beautiful, prestigious theater. My mother was going to fly out from Indiana to celebrate with me. I had bought a new velvet dress for opening night.
I was concerned about the reports that more and more cases of coronavirus had been discovered in Massachusets, but I had a show to do, and in theater, the show must always go on.
Except when it mustn't.
Every day last week felt like a month. New information was coming to light faster than we could make decisions. On Tuesday, Harvard went online-only while I and my team were in tech rehearsal at the theater. I cried in a bathroom stall that day because even before I had a chance to read in-depth about the threat, I had a feeling that this passion project, a labor of love I'd dedicated over two years of my life, might not run. The actors who had worked so hard would not get to have their moment. All the people excited to see it would not be able to. The next day we postponed the show. It was the responsible and right decision, but it broke my heart.
And that wasn't the end of the massive reality shifts. My wife and I then immediately had to stock up on supplies for indefinite social distancing. My UUA internship had gone remote, as well as the rest of my Harvard classes. My wife's school closed for three weeks, so she will be home as well. We are trying to do our part in this crucial early days by, in essence, self-quarantining. This will last at least for the next two weeks, and likely for much, much longer.
There are lessons here about attachment. About ego. About how little control any of us actually has, and how you can work and work for years and do everything right, but a pandemic virus can swoop in at any moment change your best-laid plans. Reward is never, ever guaranteed. I've known this.
I will sermon about this one day, as will we all. We will make our meaning out of this chaos, and that story will shape how we move forward, eventually, when we are again able to move.
But for now, I'm going to wait, and rest, and be with my wife and my dog. I'm going to check on my friends and my family, and see what they need. I'm going to think of those who cannot stay home, or who don't have somewhere safe to stay, and try to find ways to ease this for them, somehow. I'm going to let myself mourn what has been lost, because so much has already been lost. And I'm going to try to prepare myself as best as I can for whatever is coming next.
Amen, Blessed Be
Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, UPLIFT will be publishing reflections from the LGBTQ+ UU community. If you would like to write a reflection for Uplifting from a Distance, please submit here.