Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sitting with Job: Hiding Behind God and Pondering Trampolines

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: 
Job 4:1

I’ve been thinking a lot while sitting with Job about what kind of internal work sitting with my vulnerability and that of others is doing. I’ve decided to describe it as “rubberizing.” I initially thought to describe it as “trampoline-izing” but that sounds really awkward, so I went with rubberizing instead. But really, a trampoline really captures the image of this rubberizing. It’s like I’m gaining the capacity to receive what is coming at me without breaking or causing it to break. I’m not so fragile that a stiff wind will blow me over, but I’m also not a brick wall that shuts out and shuts down everything that comes at me. It’s this ability to catch vulnerability, hold it, and then let it go where it will without doing harm to my own internal life or that of others. Brene Brown describes something like this in Braving the Wilderness as having a strong back, soft front, wild heart. I can feel this happening, as if I’m watching my heart rubberizing into a soft place to land with the flexibility and firmness to hold to my boundaries while honoring the pain, vulnerability, and uncertainty that surrounds me. I’m not saying I’m very good rubber right now. Honestly, as trampolines go, I’d barely be interesting for a 2-year-old. But the softening-firming-flexibilizing process is happening, all the same.
I was about to share my thoughts with my friend Job (I’ve decided we’re friends because if we’re going to sit among our broken pieces, we should probably be friends), when one of his other friends piped up. Job had just bared his heart about his desire to not feel the pain that comes with existence, and Eliphaz (Eli for short) responded. But, he didn’t really respond. He answered, as if Job had just asked a question. But really, Job didn’t ask a question. Job was vulnerable. I’m not sure he was expecting someone to actually respond to him, much less answer him as if his pain requires explanation, but Eli did and here we are. And what an “answer” it was. 
I don’t want to bore you with the play-by-play, so here’s my rundown of his main points:

1. Job, you’ve helped a bunch of people when they were suffering, and now it’s your turn and you’re        
impatient and dismayed by it.
2. The innocent don’t suffer, but those who sow trouble, reap trouble. (By implication—you may think you’re 
innocent, but you’re not. If you’re suffering, you did something to make this happen.)
3. I heard a voice—the modern of equivalent of “Well, God told me, therefore you can’t argue with what I 
say”—and it said that no mortal can be truly pure or right before God.
4. “For misery does not come from the earth…Human beings are born to trouble.” Job 5:6-7 (I couldn’t resist 
quoting that one. It’s of the only plain things Eli had to say.) 
5. Commit yourself to God. We cannot understand all that God does and is doing. 
6. Do not despite God’s discipline. God wounds you, but God also heals you. 
7. If you seek God, God will deliver you, bring you peace and safety, and make you prosperous. 

I really struggled with Eli’s response to Job. Honestly, I felt affronted for Job and for myself. Who is this guy to waltz in and tell me that God is causing the suffering Job and I are experiencing? And not only that, God is discipline us through suffering because we sinned or somehow got out of alignment with God? Job over here lost all his children and all his property in one day. I’m living in the midst of a worldwide crisis because of a virus that originated in some bats in China. Given what I know of Job, why would God need him to suffer to this degree to be disciplined? And what did I do that warrants a pandemic and all its consequences to teach me how to follow God better? Who does this Eli think he is?!
But darn it, something about this internal rubberizing is making me realize that I can’t treat Eli like an enemy either. Granted, his argument makes no logical sense. Basically, he says that Job obviously sinned which is causing his own suffering because God must respond to sin with discipline. No one is exempt from sin, so everyone suffers. And the same God who uses suffering to discipline us also can deliver us from that suffering as long as we seek after God in the midst of our suffering. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s ok, because God is mysterious and we cannot fully know God’s ways. I definitely find this troubling. How am I supposed to trust a God who uses suffering to discipline me to actually deliver me from suffering? What loving God intentionally inflicts pain and grief to teach me a lesson? That does not sound like the kind of parent I want to be or that I want to have.
Despite all of these inconsistencies and troubling assumptions, my rubbery interior recognized that Eli’s speech may be masking his deep aversion to Job’s vulnerability. Better to speak than to silently witness such intense pain. In order to protect his vulnerability from Job’s raw confession, Eli hid behind God and God’s mysterious ways. Granted, God is plenty mysterious, and I would never claim to come close to fully comprehending who God is and how God acts in the world. But I do think I can count on God being consistent. A God who loves us enough to create us, who communicates with humanity so that we know how to seek after God earnestly, that is not a God who decides to inflict suffering on me because I became too sinful or impure. This is not God’s discipline because it is not the discipline of a good parent. If a loving parent refrains from causing pain, instead providing opportunities for children to grow in the midst of the unknown and difficult, as well as the joyful and carefree, consequences of their actions, then surely God who is both Love and Parent would do the same and more. God’s discipline is consistent with a love that upholds boundaries, calls forth the best in humanity even in the face of our worst behaviors, and seeks abundance for all living creatures. Yet Eli chose to lob Job’s suffering off on God’s mystery so he did not have to face the difficult reality that pain and suffering are not and may never be comprehensible. Not being able to wrap our minds around suffering is terrifying, and I wonder if Eli retreated behind God as both cause of and savior from suffering because admitting that he could not comprehend Job’s pain meant he would have to expose his vulnerability, too. 
It’s amazing how facing the incomprehensible makes me want to respond with more rigidity instead of grace, more walls and less rubber. Yet sitting with Job is doing the opposite. It is not pleasant work, but it is substantive and transformative. I will take that for now. On Saturday, we’ll see how Job responds in Job 6. My instinct is that we are in for more rawness and less comfort. Until then, blessings on all of our sitting, our waiting, our watching, and our hoping in this season.  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sitting with Job: Conversations among the Broken Pieces

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, 
and inflicted loathsome sores on Job 
from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 
Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, 
and sat among the ashes. 
Job 2:7-8

A feeling of uncertainty settles in my gut as I walked up to a dirty, unkempt man sitting on the ground with some pottery shards scattered around him. 

Hi. I’m here…well, I’ve come to sit with you. 
Welcome. Sit down. 
Ummm it looks kind of dirty down there.
Couldn't we sit on the pillows over there? Or at least sweep the floor?
What’s in the bag?
Oh, it’s nothing.
It doesn’t look like nothing. It looks heavy.
It’s just my broken pieces. 
Your broken pieces?
Yeah. I broke the other day. It all became too much, and I broke. 
I have some experience with that. 
Yes, I know. That’s why I came to sit with you. 
Then, sit down. And empty out your bag. As you can see, we have plenty of broken pieces lying around here. 
I’d rather not. I’ll just keep holding them in this bag until I figure out how to put them back together. I can just put them in the corner over there.
Hmmm. You’re not going to figure out how to put yourself back together by carrying those pieces around in that bag. Why don’t you empty them out and sit down?
If you want to sit with me, and it looks like you need to, empty the bag and sit among your broken pieces. It’s not nearly as hard to sit here as it is to admit you need to.   

Setting the bag down, gently dumping my pieces out at my feet, and slowly lowering myself to the floor, I knew Job was right. Getting down in the dirt of my brokenness was far easier than forcing myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other while I hefted my brokenness on my back, weighing down every step I took. Somehow breathing got easier, even as all words left me. Occasionally, I would reach out to try to touch, examine, make sense of my broken pieces on the floor, but Job would look over at me and raise an eyebrow as if to say, “Not now. You know it’s not time yet.” Each time, I retracted my hand and returned to the reigning silence among the ashes. The longer I sit here, the more I can feel an expansive softness open up inside me. Where I felt like I was hitting rock bottom over and over as all that this pandemic has required of me comes crashing in, now the rock is slowly transforming into a safety net with the firmness to catch me and the flexibility to cradle me as I fall. With this softening comes an openness and acceptance for those around me, for the burdens they also are carrying in these treacherous times. Good, I think, this will help. How good it is that I can accept people for who they are in the midst of our shared hardship. Then Job opens his mouth: 

Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man-child is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, or light shine on it. (Job 3:3-4)

Job goes on, first cursing his existence and then, as if he can’t actually imagine not existing, wishing he had died at birth so he could even now be resting in Sheol. That’s when he loses me. 

How dare you, Job?! How dare you wish to inflict a baby’s death on your mother, even if that baby is you?! 
Excuse you. This is my pain. My pain that is too great to bear. It would be better to die at birth than to ever face such pain as this. This pain keeps coming and coming. There is no break, no reprieve. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes. (Job 3:26)
 Better for who, Job? Maybe better for you, but certainly not for your mother who would have to continue to live a life without the child she bore in her body for nine months. 
Even that pain could not be worse than the rotating door of pain, sorrow, grief, and bad news I keep having to bear now.
Job, I know the end of your story. You’re going to be fine. And surely even now, your pain is not as bad as all this. This too shall pass.
You may know the end of my story, but you don’t know the end of your own. So, sit and listen. 

I needed that reprimand. For all that sitting among my broken pieces had started to soften me, I struggled to encounter Job’s pain. I wanted to say whatever it took to get Job to move past his pain so we could get on with the story. But in my haste to say something, I ignored the most important thing happening on that dirty floor. I ignored our shared human vulnerability—Job’s and my own. This is one of the reasons Job is a good sitting companion for this moment. I need perspective and vulnerability. I need to witness that my neighbors are also struggling right now in both unique and all-to-common ways. I need to witness that I and my global neighbors need vulnerable spaces, permission to be human. Note: not permission to be jackasses acting out of our pain or ignorance to wound others. No, permission to be human, to be heavy, exhausted, spread too thin, uncertain, and anxious. Whether my version of sackcloth and ashes is sweatpants and a bag of M&Ms, or collapsing into the bed every night and dragging my still tired body up every morning, or staying up too late binge watching my favorite crime drama to escape the unresolvable drama of my current reality, Job and I share a deep desire to shut down, followed by an equally important impulse to yell at God about it all. And that’s ok. That makes me, Job, and you, if any of this applies to you, human. Vulnerably human. 
If this is what it means to be a vulnerable human, then for a while, I am just going to have to get uncomfortably cozy with Job’s vulnerability and my own. Answers aren’t going to come quickly. Resolution to all that is scarily unknown may be even farther away. I share with Job this cry that I am not at ease or quiet in my spirit. Rest is difficult, and the only guarantee I seem to have is that trouble will keep coming. But, somehow, sitting with my broken pieces, not trying to analyze or fix them, just sitting with them is reconnecting me with my humanity and my vulnerability. And mysteriously, there is a strange kind of rest that comes in the silence as my brokenness lays on the dusty, ash-strewn floor next to the brokenness of others. 
Out of this silence comes more speaking and speculating as the first of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, speaks up, and Job argues back. Next week, I will focus on these two speeches, found in Job 4-6. Until then, may God bless our sitting, our waiting, our watching, and our hoping.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sitting with Job: Questions, Theological Hamster Wheels, and More Questions

As the mother of a newly minted toddler, I encounter questions from the minute my son gets up until the moment I’m laying him in bed. Right now, those questions tend to be “what” questions. Not that my son is actually saying “what” yet, but those are still his questions. He points at body parts, objects, food, the sky, you name it and gives me these inquisitive eyes that communicate loud and clear, “Mom, what is this?” Honestly, if you were to walk into a meal with us, you would hear a “conversation” that sounds like the rehearsal of vocabulary words—“chicken…cantaloupe…green bean…table…fork…chair…still your chair…and that is also your chair...” Even as I love my son’s curiosity, I keep telling myself that this is only the beginning, because sooner than I know, we are going to be moving from “what” to “why” questions. The thing that concerns me the most about this inevitable transition is that “what” questions have fairly discernible answers. I mean, a chair is a chair, right? (Unless, of course, my son is secretly the youngest Platonic philosopher ever, but I’ll wait for him to develop more words before I start considering that a real possibility.) But “why” questions…those are a lot trickier. “Why” questions interrogate the inner workings of things, the cause and effect that makes things what they are. To ask “why?” is to try to grasp the reason a thing is the way that it is. On the surface, that may seem to be innocent enough, but I wonder how often we consciously or unconsciously ask “why?” so that we can manipulate or avoid an outcome.
As I read and contemplated the first two chapters of Job, the question that rises up in me is “why?” Why, I wonder, does the author of Job give so much attention to the conversations between God and Satan in the heavenly realms? What is the author trying to achieve? My temptation, and it seems the temptation of many theologians throughout Christian history, is to assume that these conversations between God and Satan tell us why Job suffers. They are the origin point for all the weeping, wailing, speculating, and accusing that follow. Yet for all we know about Job in these opening chapters, we actually know very little about God and Satan. 
We presume that God here is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the Israelites. That alone tells us a lot, though the author does not make this explicit in these opening chapters. Importantly, in Job, Satan is not a figure with horns and a tail carrying around a pitchfork. Satan in this story is literally “ha-satan,” or “the Accuser.” Every time we translate “Satan” as a proper name in Job, the Hebrew says “the satan,” which describes the role or function this being plays, namely to examine and report on human behaviors to the heavenly court. So, when Satan says, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?…But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9-11, NRSV), the Accuser is functioning within his role of calling Job’s behavior into question before God.
So, there’s our why. Satan accuses, God permits Satan to test people to see if Satan is right. That’s why there’s suffering in the world. Case closed. Some days it would be nice to put such a tidy bow on this. When we look around at the chaos COVID-19 has rained down on our world, we could just say, ”Well, Satan must have questioned the behavior of the whole world. He told God that people would curse God and curse their own existence if we had to deal with the threat of a highly contagious virus that could kill up to 5% of all those who catch it. So, God gave the go ahead for the whole world to get tested by the real and present danger of a virus that keeps them at home and shuts down their economies, engendering constant fear of the future. Oh, and let’s throw in some murder hornets for good measure.” 
Anybody else have a problem with this? Yeah, me too. This doesn’t sound like a God who created the world and all things in it out of love and continues to sustain the existence of all things, including you and me, out that same powerful, eternal, abundantly flowing love. So, my dear, vexing author of Job, why would a loving God permit Satan to cause Job to suffer? 
And there we have it. The immediate “why?” that springs forth in response to these first two chapters. It’s an understandable question, and since it is so difficult to answer—in fact, since it seems basically unanswerable—it’s also a great distraction. It’s a question to which we can never get to the end, a veritable hamster wheel of theological cogitation. But, as useful as this theological reflection can be, what if there’s a different question waiting just beyond it, a question that sets the need to know the origin and cause of suffering aside for something else? 
When I let myself off the theological hamster wheel and sat still with Job 1 and 2 for a while, I started to wonder, what if the conversations between God and Satan are intentionally straightforward and lacking in detail to contrast the complex human-human and human-divine interactions that follow? Maybe the point of this prose is not to recount exactly how things went down, but to get me, the reader, to start questioning my assumptions about why suffering happens before I start sitting with Job in his grief and anguish. What if sitting with Job means learning to let go of needing to understand why suffering happens so that I can come to a richer, more complex understanding and love for myself, my neighbors, and God? 
Our responses to the stresses and anxieties caused by suffering can have a way of flattening the self and others. I might start praying that God would end the pandemic tomorrow and question whether God loves me and hears me if God doesn’t do as I ask. I might start seeing my neighbor not as a person but as an ultra-contagious disease carrier. I might start understanding myself as somehow irresponsible for not being prepared for a pandemic no one could have predicted, and therefore the sole cause of my own suffering. Suffering can so easily trigger any or all of these responses, and many more, but none of these are a true representation of the reality in which we are all living right now. 
For all that suffering can narrow our perspective, perhaps the author of Job is inviting us into an expansive space of sitting and truly being with ourselves and others in suffering. My intuition tells me that if I sit long enough with Job, I might start gaining more questions in the face of all the trials and tribulations that surround me. Instead of getting stuck in “why is this happening?,” I wonder if my time with Job will bear the fruit of new questions: Where is hope? How is God at work? What does love look like when we are all at the end of our ropes? Who is my neighbor underneath that mask? What am I not asking because I get stuck on my hamster wheels?
I guess I will have to wait and see and let my time with Job be what it will be. That said, this first blog has actually only covered chapters 1 and 2, as chapter 3 had much more in it to explore than there is space in this post to cover. So, I will be back on Friday (hopefully) with reflections on Job 3, and at the end of that post I’ll let you know where I’ll go from there. Until then, blessings on all of our sitting, our waiting, our watching, and our hoping in this season.  

Monday, May 4, 2020

Sitting with Job: Introduction

     In times of crisis, personal or otherwise, I start seeking out companions for the journey. I identify the people, songs, stories, and coping mechanisms that are going to help me get through the day. So, when this pandemic started, I instituted a daily, one-hour walk (made possible by all the Goldfish I use to bribe my son to sit in a stroller that long), I lined up my podcasts to listen to during those walks, I work (as much as a mother with a toddler can) to stay connected to friends who keep me grounded, I do all I can to prioritize watching a weekly worship service, and I've made weekly therapy appointments a must. All of these tools and more have made surviving these first 50+ days of the pandemic possible, but being in the midst of an ongoing global crisis means that the hits don't stop coming just because we've been in quarantine for almost two months. As an academic, I'm facing the reality of a mostly non-existent job market this coming school year, trying to write a dissertation without knowing when childcare will be available or safe, and needing to find work to fill in the gaps while we wait and see what's going to happen in the next 6-12 months. And even as I say that, I know that my family's experience is both valid and only one of millions of stories of hardship as the world enters into what seems to be an interminable period of waiting and hoping and struggling as we watch to see how this pandemic and our response to it will unfold. 
     As I came to grips with this perpetual state of crisis in my life and the world, I realized I needed to seek out additional companions for this current stage of my journey. In the past, I have turned to scripture, leaning on the witness of Jesus, Mary, Abigail, and Esther, to name a few. As I discerned who could be a companion for this season, Job kept bubbling up. At first, I did not want to journey with Job. I didn’t want to have anything in common with Job, and I certainly didn’t want to have to confront the theological struggles about God, evil, and theodicy that inevitably come up when reading Job. 
     Yet I couldn’t escape the sense that Job would be a good friend for the present moment. Given the primary posture throughout Job, it seems appropriate that a journey with Job doesn’t really move from one point to another, but takes a stance of sitting, waiting, wailing, making outrageous claims, struggling with the outrageous claims of others, and all the while expecting that God is going to show up. So, acknowledging the possibility that you might also need a scriptural companion right now, I invite you to sit with Job with me. I am going to work to post reflections twice a week, although I beg your grace if such consistency is not possible. I will let you know at the end of each reflection what chapters I’ll be covering in the next post if you want to read ahead. These reflections will not be what I would call a Bible study, but more a spiritual, theological dialogue between the text of Job and my background, experiences, and perspectives. While some of my theological training will definitely come into play, I do not intend for this to be a highly researched, technical endeavor. Rather, it is me sharing my sitting journey with Job and God in the midst of this pandemic with whoever might benefit from it. I welcome conversation and input along the way, even if I am not capable of responding very quickly given the vagaries of parenting a toddler. By Wednesday, I hope to post my first reflection, which will cover chapters 1-3 of Job. I look forward to sitting in the struggle with you, and I firmly believe that within the sitting we will encounter the holy.      

Friday, April 17, 2020

How Would Jesus Quarantine?

When I was a teenager, "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets were all the rage. It seems like such a simple question with fairly simple answers: love people, don’t hurt yourself or others, and when given a choice, make the right decision. And if you’re wondering what the “right” decision is, just go back to the question and do what Jesus would do. 
Yet when I was a teenager, I could not have imagined that I would be asking this question during a pandemic that has made my family and millions of others shelter in place for over a month with no end in sight. I also could not have imagined that I would be watching faithful Christian pastors and laypeople with this question ringing in my head. While so many Christian communities have put the needs of their vulnerable neighbors at the forefront by cancelling in-person worship, closing church offices, working and leading worship virtually from home, I have also seen images of co-workers sitting side-by-side for Zoom calls, different households gathering with less than six feet between them, people going into public not taking precautions like wearing a mask or keeping their distance in grocery aisles. While part of me wholeheartedly believes that “What Would Jesus Do?” must lead us to recognize that love for our neighbors means we do all we can to protect ourselves and our neighbors by listening to public health officials and practicing consistent physical distancing, wearing a mask, and only going out for essential reasons, another part of me recognizes that this pandemic has led many of us to a line we never thought we would face with such stark clarity—the line between what I am and am not willing to do for love of neighbor. As people living at the limits of what we thought loving God and neighbor would require of us, I think we need a new question: “How Would Jesus Quarantine?”
The lectionary text for the Sunday after Easter this year is John 20:19-31, which contains the (in)famous story of Doubting Thomas, but which I would like to rename: “The Time Jesus Walked Through a Locked Door…Twice.” Honestly, I can think of no other text that gives us such a profound starting point to answer the question, “How Would Jesus Quarantine?” I have heard and seen many pastors reflect the past several weeks on what a profound shared connection we have this year with the disciples who were fearful, dismayed, and uncertain following the crucifixion and alleged resurrection of Jesus, and I am not here to deny these reflections. I rather think they are on point. I am, however, interested in looking at how Jesus responds to the disciples’ locked-in, fearful existence. In both of the post-resurrection appearances in this passage, Jesus shows that he is not hindered by locked doors and solid walls, appearing in the midst of the disciples despite their attempts to keep people out and themselves in. But notably, Jesus doesn’t go flip the lock, fling the door open, and tell the disciples to get outside. No, Jesus presents himself within their self-imposed quarantine, declaring Good News through his palpable presence in their midst. Jesus Quarantine Protocol #1: God shows up even when it’s best for us to remain inside. 
Both times Jesus appears among the disciples, his resurrected body becomes a text for the Good News of God’s salvation. All that Jesus does in their midst to declare and equip the disciples with Good News begins with the presentation of his wounded body. In my work in disability theology, I draw on Jesus’ presentation of his post-resurrection wounds in John 20:19-31 to illuminate Jesus’ disabled identity. God’s salvific work does not just include disabled people—it is worked out and revealed in a Messiah who embodies disability. The abnormality of Christ’s eternally wounded and risen body tells the story of God’s Good News, a story of salvation that embraces the myriad of diverse embodiments that make up humankind and rejects those narratives that call for the erasure and denigration of disabled bodies. Thus, Jesus presents to the disciples an embodied solidarity with disability that actually enters the story of disability rather than expounding on the concept of vulnerable human bodies from a safe distance away. Jesus Quarantine Protocol #2: Live into, not separate from, your proximity to vulnerability.
Never at any point in this passage does Jesus tell the disciples it’s time to get out of the house, which is quite telling since an entire week passes between these two appearances. In the first, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the disciples and in the second, Thomas declares Jesus’ divine Lordship, leading Jesus to affirm Thomas's true faith, as well as the faith of the readers of John who have not ever seen Jesus with their own eyes. Surely true belief in the risen Son of God and the bestowal of the Holy Spirit are justifiable reasons to leave the house. Yet receiving these gifts from Jesus and encountering the Good News written on his body does not mean that it is safe for the disciples to move freely in public. Threats to the disciples’ lives still undeniably existed beyond the doors of the house, and while some may have been able to come and go (we’re looking at you, Thomas), others may have been too vulnerable to have that luxury. To protect one another, they had to be careful about leaving the house, and Jesus does not ask them to do any different. Instead, I suggest that the disciples’ face-to-face, skin-to-skin encounter with the vulnerability of Jesus’ risen body transforms what it means to love God and neighbor by shaping that love in the image of the Disabled Christ. Jesus manifests salvation within vulnerability, suggesting that loving God and working out our salvation means attending to God’s presence among vulnerable bodies. Jesus Quarantine Protocol #3: Sometimes, and perhaps especially right now, modeling our faith on the Risen, Disabled Christ and loving our neighbor means we must stay home. 
I can’t deny that my own family composition influences how I consider the question, “How Would Jesus Quarantine?” As the wife of a wheelchair user and mother to a 1.5 year-old, caregiving for vulnerable bodies comprises a large part of my life. Before shelter-in-place orders were laid down in our county, I was implementing quarantine procedures, and I had several people ask me why. On the practical end, I could not and still can’t imagine taking care of my husband and son while sick with COVID-19. Moreover, though my husband does not have a condition that directly compromises his immune system, the fact that he sits in a wheelchair during 99% of his waking hours does not help when dealing with respiratory conditions, nor do we know how his diagnosed disabilities might respond to COVID-19. So, I quarantined us to protect my family, not knowing whether this virus might be life-threatening to one or more of us or not. But, deep down, there’s more to my actions than even this, though caring for my family’s well-being is probably one of my deepest motivators for decision-making. Our family’s life as part of the disability community and my work in disability theology means that on a daily basis I dive into encounter after encounter with humanity’s vulnerability with the conviction that God’s Good News dwells in the stories, experiences, and day-to-day existence of persons with disabilities and their families. I quarantine because the lives most at risk in this pandemic are my people, and if you claim to follow the Risen Christ, they are your people, too. 
Yet, if we do not encounter the stories of vulnerable bodies, if we do not recognize that to follow Christ is to follow a Disabled Savior, then we have no framework for what it means to truly love all our neighbors within our strange, ongoing trial of pandemic. This is why I think we need to ask “How Would Jesus Quarantine?” The Jesus who meets the disciples in their quarantine appears in an abnormal body, manifesting disability and human vulnerability as the answer to the disciples' fears and confusion. This disabled Jesus resists any notions we might have that living as Jesus does means we do not have to come face-to-face with the limits of our love for God and neighbor. And, this disabled Jesus invites us into greater depths of love for God, neighbor, self, and creation. The Disabled Christ does not condemn us for the limits of our loving, but invites us to love ourselves and others more deeply by recognizing God in the midst of quarantine, embracing solidarity with vulnerable humanity, and staying home as an exercise of loving, life-giving presence to our community. In this way, we are renewed and reformed into the Body of Christ that embodies God’s active, abundant love for creation within human vulnerability.