On March 16th schools were closed, all public places were closed and I was told to work from home. The news of the COVID-19 pandemic was frightening. Thousands of people were contracting the virus daily and thousands were dying, worldwide. Then 71 days of living under the isolation, anxiety and stress of COVID-19 brought us to Monday, May 25, 2020. I turned on my TV to catch the COVID-19 update of Mayor Garcetti in the hopes of seeing the numbers of cases and deaths drop and that we were moving forward with the stages of opening LA County.
Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day, I stood watching a man named George Floyd gasping for air as a police officer knelt on his neck. At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing. The news reporter made it clear. The police officer knelt on George Floyd's neck until he died. I just stood there in disbelief, watching him die over and over because they kept repeating the video as they reported the story.
I could hear him say, "I can't breathe."
That was twelve days ago. Each day I have watched the news, looking for something - I'm not sure for what. The first several days brought images of massive protesting with violent looting, riots and fires. My phone began alerting me to LA County curfews. I felt so heartbroken for George Floyd. I saw one of his brothers on the news and cried thinking about what it must be like to see that video of your own brother being killed like that. Then more details came out like he not only said, "I can't breathe," but he called for his mother. I started going on Facebook several times a day, looking for something - still not sure for what. It was exploding with all sorts of quotes on racism, people's opinions and angry rants. I am overwhelmed.
Right now my apartment is quiet. Today I have been working in silence, no TV or radio. My body aches. My stomach is unsettled. My heart is heavy with sadness. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I am still looking for something and still I don't know what it is.
Maybe that is what I'm supposed to be doing, looking for something. Understanding. How can systemic racism exist so strongly that black men and women are dying? Hope. How is real change going to happen? Peace. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the brutal death of George Floyd how are people going to be at peace? In my silence today I'm asking God these questions.
In today's Gospel reading (Mark 12:38-44) Jesus points out to His disciples that after rich people had put in their donations, a poor widow came and put in her small donation of two coins. It was all she had. Jesus told His disciples that she put in more than all the wealthy put in because she gave from her poverty and it was all she had.
I hear Jesus telling me that He sees that I am looking for something, but in that "poverty" within myself, give. Give myself, with all my anxiety, stress, hurt and being overwhelmed, to Him. Give myself to you by being vulnerable in writing this blog. Give myself to St. Peter Claver parish by continuing to work hard through this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hear you Lord.