what hope looks like: poetry in a pandemic

Jennifer Camp
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Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.

Light is shining. I can see it. Covering my skin, entering my heart. I breathe deep. Let air move these lungs. Day five of shelter in place and every one of these days I leave my house and walk. The dog needing to get out is my excuse–but really, I need the walk too. My heart needs solace. And I find it in the strolls around the neighborhood, meeting, at a distance, at least a dozen people each time–always on other sides of the street–out walking too. We smile. Say hello. And there is a knowing, a comfort, somehow, in the shared experience. The world, as a whole, feels closer, smaller now. And not because we literally can’t go far from our homes–but because our attention has turned. 

God, You are good. You are doing something good. Even though it is difficult, now, to understand.

I am hungry for the stories being written now–the stories of people searching for God–this virus disrupting the life we once knew. Our ways of relating. Our pace. Our values. Our ways of seeing the world. A myriad of opinions and challenges. Suffering and smiles. Pain and hope.

A few days ago, on a video on Instagram, I shared a conversation I had with God. It was before the shelter in place was in effect, and yet I woke up feeling uncertain, uncomfortable, pushing back fear. I wrote in my journal:

Father, it feels dystopian—this world right now. There is so much fear. I am fearing, I realize, that the world my kids grow up in–maybe raise their kids in—will be vastly different and unfamiliar than mine. I feel like something is being taken away—innocence, naiveté? I feel a hardness wanting to develop in me—and that is unfamiliar too. It is an unwelcome feeling. I don’t like it; it doesn’t feel right.

 It was good to be around friends yesterday, but there is so much pain and suffering now. Please heal this world. It feels like an old world is dying—and I am confused about how to feel about it. I feel myself tumbling a bit into complacency and negativity—like, what’s the point of hope if everything is going to get worse before You come back to rescue and redeem and restore this world? I am scared. What is wrong? What is broken? Will You fix things—mend things that are broken before You ultimately come? Or will You let things fall apart—until all is destroyed and then You come, ultimately, to fix it?

If everything is just going to get awful, will You please come now before it gets any worse? 

Father, what do You want me to do? What do You want me to think? What do I pray for? Whom do I pray for? What is Your plan? What are You doing? How do I wait on You in this turbulent and unsettled place?

And this is what He said to me:

I want you to hope. I want you to fight alongside Me. I want you to keep your gaze on Me. Do not break gaze. Do not silence your ears. All is not breaking. In the morning the sun is rising. The lies are destructive—telling you fear is more important than hope. You know how to encourage. You know how to look to Me. Do that now. Stand fast, daughter. I’ve got you. I’ve got your family. There is more beauty coming. All will be restored. Walk with Me to bring hearts to see it. Speak hope. Speak joy. Speak connection and love. Love. Love. Love. Shine with my strength in you. The lie is that all things are falling apart—but I am making all things new!

And I remember His words to me on January 1st, when He shared with me the word He invites me to cling to this year: still. When He told me the word, and I asked with what it meant, He gave me words to explain what this looks like for me, in my life, to live this way. and what His role will be as I trust in Him.

and still I will stand
and still I will wait
and still I will trust
and still I will believe
and still I will move
and still I will grow
and still I will be
for still you are with me
for still you wait
for still you love me
for still you adore
for still you sing over me
for still you believe
for still you stand with me
for still you do not leave

I heard Him say stillness is “deep knowing, peace within you, even in moving. This staying steadfast even in storm requires grace–and acceptance of strength within you. This year will require resilience and malleability, and then steadfastness and strength. So bend and move and be still within, and this is how you will experience peace–and Me.”

For this week’s Loop Poetry Project prompt, let’s give room for our hearts to share how they are feeling in the midst of this unusual time. Let your heart tell a story. Let it speak to you as a person right in front of you, explaining to you, through imagery, description and concrete detail, how it is doing. If you’d like to focus on a word, I encourage you to write on this topic: hope.

As you consider writing your poem, please leave a comment here to let me know how you are doing. And/or, let your poem do the explaining for you–and share your poem below. That would be wonderful! If you’d like to share your poem on social media, please use the hashtag #looppoetryproject. And click here if you would like to join the Loop Poetry Project private Facebook group. Your heart has a story to tell. I can’t wait to hear it. Please leave a comment! (My poem is below.)

with much love and hope,

jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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About Jennifer Camp

Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.