The Deaconess Community of the ELCA answered our question: "What losses and opportunities have members of the Deaconess Community of the ELCA experienced as they faithfully respond to their diaconal calls and work for the flourishing of all God’s creation?" They shared....
~ Sr. Shana Williams (pictured above): The pandemic has affected my call mainly in a loss of in-person interaction with students, families, and colleagues. It has made everything we do exponentially more difficult. It has highlighted our strengths as a tiny school district, which lie in the relationships and trust we build with students and families.
~ Sr. Melinda Lando: As a healthcare provider, the impact of COVID-19 has forced me to adjust the care I provide to my patients. It has meant hot having direct, face to face, contact with my patients, but rather via telehealth. While this is better than no contact with them, I miss the direct, face to face and physically present encounters. I've missed this tremendously.
~ Sr. Clare Josef-Maier: As a campus minister, I realized with dismay that students whose worlds were turned upside down with the pandemic were going to look to me for wisdom and stabilizing. My own capacity to serve them felt like it was crumbling: no more in-person connections through which to gauge their individual needs and support their communal life together, information changing as often as I changed my clothes, my own bearings shaken by the personal impact of the pandemic to my family. But this experience has reminded me that narrow/antiquated definitions of leadership hold us back - the mere presence of caring engagement and accompaniment alongside students as they "surf the waves" of this time empowered their resiliency both as individuals and in community to one another.
~ Sr. Kriss Buss: As a hospital chaplain, I have lost the familiar space to grieve with patients and families and staff as they grapple with illness and the rhythm of life and death. In the midst of the pandemic, safety and responsible fear has separated so many families and patients and created many limits on our physical interactions, at the most emotionally charged times. And yet I have learned that there is a breaking in of love and grace in phone calls, the opportunity to hold someone's heart from a distance of six feet or sixty miles. I have learned that we become more aware of deep connection to one another when we must be aware of the distance. I am thankful for constantly thinking of new ways to care for my patients, families, and staff each day as we uphold the sacredness of life and death.
~ Sr. Dottie Almoney: The losses I have experienced in my call as a parish Deaconess is the loss of physical community. What I have gained is the knowledge that we can reach more people if we keep incorporating zoom for meetings and learning as well as worship that is live streamed after this pandemic is over!
~ Sr. Mary Arie: We live in a crazy time - what we took for normal is now a mere memory. I am called to pastor two small rural churches - everything is different. The way we do funerals is the most impacted - at the gravesite - no close contact with family. But the Holy Spirit is still comforting the loved ones. The words of comfort are still being said. To be flexible is the key.