Is Zoom a Reliable Alibi?

One of the joys of the Shutdown has been discovering crime dramas on what used to be mysterious and unclicked words on my TV screen. The series of murder mysteries on MHZ, Hulu, Britbox and Acorn are not necessarily formulaic, but they have one major scene in common: the detective always asks if the suspect was elsewhere on the night of; and if there are witnesses to the alibi.

I had an alibi last Sunday. The Shutdown service at my church was livestreamed into an adequate eleven-inch computer screen propped up on the desk in my bedroom. The sermon struck the taut chords in my silent mouth and unclapped hands. I needed a collection of witnesses to shout “Amen!” to Pastor Shannon’s sermon. But I was alone, looking out the elsewhere window weeping over the no-one. No one to join in a standing ovation, no one to see and no one to see me.

After the sermon I sang along with the tinny music emanating from the computer; an old hymn I love:

Live into hope of captives freed

From chains of fear or want or greed.

God now proclaims our full release

To faith and hope and joy and peace.

Halfway through I shuttered with a renewed and deeper knowing that I’d never attend a church service in person again. The pandemic Shutdown will hold me captive in chains of fear until the end of my days. Groups, especially singing groups are out of the question for my old bones in these non-vaccine days. 

I won’t observe Pastor Matt’s infant grow from a toddler to a Sunday schooler. He’ll never again see me ooh and ahh in the delight of his fatherhood. I’ll never sneak into an early morning service in my pajamas (hidden under a long winter coat), to hear Pastor Rocky again. And he’ll never see me admiring him in the way of a proud mother. Gabrielle and I will never again join arms, run up to Pastor Shannon after the service and proclaim our undying gratitude for her ministry. And she will never see the reflected glow of our admiring faces in the pews.

crrub140320Albert Einstein once posed a question to a fellow physicist, “Do you really believe that the moon only exists if you look at it?” It’s a common philosophical question, similar to
the sophomoric, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”. In morning meditation I intentionally ask myself if I’m hearing sound or “thoughts of sound” as a way to go deeper, where there is no sound.

Intentional solitude is not the same however as the feelings of isolation that arise from the existential supposing, “If I’m neither heard nor seen, do I exist?” Responding to covid requires an abrupt “so long” to a group existence I wasn’t ready to leave. In an alternate elsewhere life, witnesses see and hear me on Zoom.

Is this a reliable alibi?

 

15 thoughts on “Is Zoom a Reliable Alibi?

  1. I can’t yet relate to televised services from my old church, Sacred Heart, in Camden, NJ.
    My old friend Father Michael Doyle has retired – way past quitting time. I have yet to meet the new justice seeking lawyer/priest who lobbied to make this parish his own.
    Maybe there is an alibi! Set up in the pews is a big screen with a recorder showing everyone whose watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The covid isolation stinks but we will get through this period in a couple of years. Maybe we will appreciate
    other people more after our isolation. Let’s hope so. Your essay was wonderful and true.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, my goodness! What a wrenching heartfelt truth. I mourn with you this loss of the former life which is, indeed, forever changed. Yet I have hope that you will be able to join in bodily worship at some point, just as we all wish to. Until then–?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your essay brought tears of recognition and profound sadness for those precious parts of our lives that have been torn away so abruptly, forever. Thank you for giving words to underlying sadness, anger, and fear

    Liked by 1 person

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