“Do you have kids?” the paramedic administering my vaccine asked.
“Yes. Two barrels of energy. They are 3 and 1.”
“A pastor and a mom? Wow.” She said, smiling. “I want to tell you something important. You’ll be scheduling a 2nd dose on the way out, and I want you to do something for me. Schedule the day after your 2nd dose as a PJ day for just you. Take off from work. Get a babysitter. Schedule yourself a sick day. You may feel a little under the weather with the 2nd dose (I did). And even if it doesn’t make you sick, you’ll still get a day in you pjs reading a book. You’ve been through a lot. You deserve it, Pastor.”
I started to tear up. She didn’t know me at all, but she spoke right to my heart. Paramedic as pastor. She was right: I totally deserve a PJ day after momming and pastoring and adulting through this past year.
Yet I wasn’t sure she was right on another point: Did I deserve the vaccine she had just put into my arm? On Monday (January 11, 2021), all clergy in my Presbytery received notice from our Executive Presbyter that one of our local healthcare systems was opening up the vaccine to all “clergy in the community.” By Thursday (January 14) at 9:30am, I had rolled up my sleeve to receive the vaccine shot in my arm. I could hardly believe that I had been chosen to receive the COVID-19 vaccine so soon in the distribution process. As a healthy (but super exhausted) 30-something woman, I figured I wouldn’t be eligible until Summer or even Fall. So many others need the protection from the deadly virus more than me. I don’t have underlying health conditions. I don’t have a job that puts me on the frontlines. I am careful and as safe as possible here in my little bubble, which consists of both home and church on one little block.
Yet I, like the rest of the world, have spent sleepless nights and anxiety-ridden days worrying about contracting COVID-19. My worries are twofold. First, I worry that I could potentially spread the virus to members of my church who are in the high-risk groups. My kids are in daycare and, while we are blessed with an amazing daycare with strict safety guidelines, it’s still a risk that could potentially affect my congregation. Second, I worry that if my family all test positive, my husband and I would not be able to care for our small children if we were very sick ourselves. No one could help take care of our kids because we would need to be in strict quarantine. These two worries alone have driven many of our life choices in these last 10 months.