For me, the hardest time is the morning.
Sometimes it takes great effort just to get out of bed. If I have slept at all, there is this instant of realization when it dawns on me all over again each morning that we really are in the middle of a global pandemic. And realizing that . . . it's hard to get up. Even if the day is beautiful (which many of our recent days have been), it's hard to be reminded again that I cannot go where I'd like to go. And it's even harder to deal with the fact that I might go through an entire day and not so much as see another person. The hardest time is the morning.
For me, the hardest time is late afternoon.
That's when I take account of what, if anything, I accomplished that day. If I'm lucky, I can point to this or that, but it's still hard. Hours without human interaction are wearing (yes, that is wearing even for a strong introvert!). Communicating with students through email is frustrating, and dealing with slow internet makes it even worse. By late afternoon most days, I have a stack of notes and cards that I've written, ready to put in the mail. Many days I have actually accomplished a few things. But late afternoon can still be discouraging. And even a little fearful. As Julie arrives home after doing her "essential" work all day, we wonder what germs she might be carrying home. The hardest time is late afternoon.
For me, the hardest time is bedtime.
It's odd to feel tired at the end of the day even when I haven't been very productive. I tell myself that simply surviving these days requires immense emotional energy. But it's still hard to let go, to shut down, to give in to sleep. I wonder if the next day will be like the one I've just lived, or if perhaps something dramatically good might be coming. Maybe it's simply the darkness or just the ending of a day, but the hardest time is bedtime.
For me, the hardest time is the middle of the night.
I normally fall asleep easily, but don't normally sleep through the night. Waking up in the middle of the night is a complete unknown. Sometimes, I'll go back to sleep -- easily, quickly, deeply. Other times . . . well, let's just say that I'm pretty familiar with 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. And at those times, there is plenty of opportunity to think and pray and reflect. And that's not all bad. Still, the middle of the night can be brutal. And often, for me, that's the hardest time.
For me, it's all hard.
A number of years ago, I was talking with a dear friend who was dealing with a profound loss. And without a lot of forethought, I simply said, "Hard things are hard." I know it doesn't sound like much, but those words meant a lot to my friend at the time. In fact, for years now, those words have been remembered and recited and even passed on to others: "Hard things are hard."
And as trite as that might sound, I think that's a good word for today. Schooled in the art of independence and self-sufficiency, we typically believe that we should be able to manage anything and everything that comes our way. And we usually do that pretty well.
At the same time, though, we need to admit that there are hard things.
Even more, we should be willing to admit that hard things are hard!
What we are dealing with right now is a hard thing.
And dealing with it is hard.
Morning. Late afternoon. Bedtime. Middle of the night. It's all hard.
Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29).
It seems to me that Jesus is quite aware that this is hard.
And it seems to me that Jesus can help us live through this hard time..