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BY CHETT PRITCHETT

March 21, 2020


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Kenny Rogers died yesterday, and it reminds us that we cannot mourn as usual,
and sometimes we lose the ones who give us the words when we do not have any. 
Photo credit: Charley Gallay | Getty Images
Kenny Rogers, pop-country singer of ‘The Gambler’ who dominated 1970s music charts, dies at 81 – from The Washington Post
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ –John 20:11-13
Today’s news of the death of Kenny Rogers stings. Readers across generations have known Rogers’ music – for many it was “The Gambler,” but for some it might have been “Lucille” or my favorite, “Islands in the Stream.” For Kenny’s close family and friends, his death comes at a time when mourning looks a little different. In the past week I’ve seen friends grieve over the death of family members (non-coronavirus related) in an age of distancing. My heart weighs heavy as well. As the only child of an aging parent with mounting health problems, I can only imagine the ways in which they are processing grief. No funerals, no graveside service, no casseroles. So, we reach out in other ways: a text message, a meal left on the doorstep. I even had to ask myself “Is flower delivery still a thing?”

In the midst of grief, we often turn to those who give us words when we have no words: singers, songwriters, psalmists. I think that’s why the death of Kenny Rogers hits harder than it normally would. Thankfully, in this time of physical isolation, the creative-types have it already figured out. This week I joined 50,000 people in a live-stream of an Indigo Girls concert that made my heart leap with joy. Broadway stars are figuring out how to provide access to their music. Neighborhood concerts are happening on porches across communities. Balcony sing-alongs are giving joy and hope.

“Why are you weeping?” the angel asks. We are scared and confused like Mary. And yet joy comes in the mo(u)rning.
  • Reach out to your friends with sick or recently deceased parents. Just a note, a meal, or flower delivery (yes, it still exists!).
  • Contact your neighbors and put together a community porch concert to keep appropriate distancing.
  • Make a playlist and share it with your friends so you can listen and dance and sing together throughout the day.
Source of Creativity, 
give us tenacity, 
give us strength, 
gives us power, 
to bear life in a time of loss.
to bear hope in a time of confusion, 
to bear love in the midst of isolation. 
So be it.
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