A ViewPoint by Dr. Paula Trimble-Familetti
Flat Stanley was originally created by Jeff Brown after Jeff’s son joked about being concerned that the bulletin board hanging over his bed would flatten him in his sleep. And so the story of Flat Stanley – the boy flattened by a bulletin board – was born. Flat Stanley travels the world and has many wonderful adventures. After reading a few of his stories one starts to realize that perhaps being flat can inspire great things.
I feel flat. I didn’t have a bulletin board fall on me like Flat Stanley. I had a pandemic fall on me. Months-long self-quarantine fell on me. A COVID-19 birthday fell on me. I had despair and rage at the killing of George Floyd and many others fall on me. I had disheartenment as I saw the Black Lives Matter movement maligned fall on me. I had the sadness that more than 220,000 Americans are dead because of the pandemic fall on me. I had the recognition that many of those people are dead because they didn’t take the pandemic seriously fall on me.
I thank God that I have not suffered the death of a loved one. I thank God that I wake up healthy every morning. I thank God that my loved ones, some of whom are on the front line in a local hospital, wake up healthy every morning. But I still felt flat.
I turned to my faith, but that felt flat. I can’t go to services, and Zoom communion is not the same.
I know I am one of the lucky ones. I have enough to eat, even if I have to eat my own cooking. I don’t have to worry about rent. I have gas for my car. I get to stay in the mountains for the summer so I don’t have to experience the desert’s extreme heat. Even with all those blessings, I still felt flat.
These are challenging times. Have you seen the “We are all in this together” commercials? We aren’t. People are out of work. People are losing their homes. Landlords are evicting people because they can’t pay their rent. People are struggling to feed their families, desperate to find work, grieving the loss of loved ones, worried that their loved ones on the front lines or in essential worker jobs might get infected.
The other day, I was pulling out of the post office parking lot and a woman waved madly at me. Even under the hat, behind the sunglasses and mask, I knew it was Pastor Dianne. She is the pastor of Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church in Big Bear, CA. I pulled back into my parking spot and jumped out for a virtual hug. As we stood behind my car talking, I felt like I was being pumped up. “We are having drive-up church,” she exclaimed. I felt a bit more pumped up at the idea of actually going to church. You should see the tiny little communion cups with the host sealed in peel-off plastic on the cup’s top.
I heard about the Wall of Moms in Portland who lined up to protect peaceful protesters. “Moms are here, feds stay clear,” they chanted. Then the dads with their leaf blowers showed up to blow away the tear gas. Finally, veterans stood at parade rest to protect the protesters. Not only am I pumped up, I am almost giddy at the solidarity Portlanders are showing for their community.
Recently, I watched the funeral of John Lewis, civil rights leader and United States House Representative. As sad an occasion as a funeral is, I felt pumped up. The eulogies reminded me of all the good in our country. The speakers told of the progress made toward the rights of all citizens. I sang and prayed at a church that wasn’t flat. I remembered how much love and faith are part of our country, even when we are behind a mask or sheltering in our homes. I want us to be in this together because we will become stronger and better on the other side.
How are you feeling? Flat? If you are feeling fine, you are one of the lucky ones. If not, be reminded of the blessings we as residents and citizens of the United States have. Look for the good. It’s there. John Lewis liked to dance to the Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” If nothing else cheers you up, hum “Happy” dance, and remember that feeling flat can sometimes lead to great things.
© 2020 by Christian Feminism Today
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