Laughter, lament, longing

Rev. Paul L. Escamilla, Senior Pastor


Earlier this month the weekday school hosted a teacher-appreciation-week “parade” of sorts through the church parking lot. While teachers maintained distance, with masks, parents were invited to inch their vehicles slowly through the driveway, allowing children to wave at teachers who stood some 20 feet away through their car windows.

The children were absolutely delighted to have a glimpse of their teachers as they slowly moved through the parking lot in their vehicles. Imagine the smiles, waves, and shouts of teachers’ names as teachers called their names in return. “We love you!” “We miss you!” “It’s so good to see you!” One little boy expressed the carried-awayness of so many of the children with an exuberance that was through the roof—literally. With his mom’s permission he had left his seat and hoisted his head through the sunroof, raising his arms as he cheered and smiled and waved.

As his teachers faded from view, suddenly a different reality dawned on him—that he was not staying, not joining his teachers and friends for a wonderful day at the Laurel Heights Weekday School. His smile disappeared, and he lowered his hands, dropped away from the sunroof, and buried his head in his mother’s lap to cry.

In a matter of seconds a young child brought to expression the unparalleled mix of emotions many of us feel in our current environment: joy in new discoveries, new connections, new adventures in improvisation, new appreciation for one another’s faces and voices and stories, a keen sense of solidarity through this unprecedented sojourn; and then sorrow—at seeing the world in such hurt, in certain cases experiencing it ourselves in ways small or profound; sorrow at our separation from one another and the sacred rhythms we keep that also keep us; and finally, longing. We long for the air to clear, the masks to come off, the world to hum again—no, sing—in ways that are safe, healthy, and comforting in their familiarity. Laughter, lament, longing—the soul’s loom has woven this range of emotions into a single cloth, one as precious as it is particular. May that finely woven cloth serve to comfort and warm those within our many circles of care, and in some small way, the whole hurting world.

Grace and peace.