ICU: A Community Lament - Word&Way

ICU: A Community Lament

I see you health care worker

Robed head to toes, masks leaving lines across your nose

Wanting to extend compassion but so drained

From death and loss and grief and pain

The burden of others you bear, your care

The last human touch on this side of eternity

The sacred moments of the in-between

Scourged by the futility and preventability

How long, O God, how long?


I see you parent of littles

Stepped out of the corporate rat race

To face a new kind of trap, with no map

Perils of parenthood more intense, makes no sense

Each decision higher stakes, no mistakes

All while being so alone, at home

Needing a friend, worth the risk in the end?

Searching for a script that has yet to be written

How long, O God, how long?

I see you pastor

Preached to love your neighbor for years

Now you fear the chance came, the lesson waned

Disheartened by souls adrift, a community untethered

Questioning whether people can come together

A faith divided, with little hope provided

False idols in power, hate ringing louder

Preaching a faith that is slipping through your fingers

How long, O God, how long?


I see you teacher

Witnessing the weariness in the eyes of your class

Tenderly you ask, to tend the pain, trust to gain

Some say they are behind, them you remind

Tender hearts must be nourished, so the mind can flourish

To feel safe again, to feel whole again, to feel joy again

There’s simply no choice, but be their voice

To form cocoons of care, holding tight as you dare

How long, O God, how long?


I see you teenager

Supposed to be your time to shine

Things you looked forward to, gone from view

If you could just rewind to remind of a normal time

Familiar yet foreign, fresh yet forgotten

Hopes for the future dim behind a curtain, so uncertain

Left behind–out of sight, out of mind

Should be thriving but are barely surviving

How long, O God, how long?


I see you family of the immunocompromised

Wondering will you be the one

To cause despair, months of care, undone

Questioning if this decision will bring division

Torn between a life to live and a life to protect

Scales tipping between risks and reward

Weary of the worry, expired by the energy required

To navigate and contemplate what once was uncomplicated

How long, O God, how long?


I see you beloved

Grocery store worker and French fry cooker

Librarian and veterinarian and octogenarian

Small business owner and big bank loaner

Scientists no one listens to, airline pilots who once flew

Those burdened by student debts, all the homeless vets

Soon-to-be brides, families of those who’ve died

Ones making decisions, ones uniting divisions

How long, O God, how long?

I see YOU

Meager light from a candle at the end of its wick

A flickering flame expiring quick

If we hold each one up, will our lights connect?

Can we cast out the vast darkness? Each other protect?

Correct the void that separates us?

Reject dismay, despair, disarray, desolation?

A restoration of the hope of creation?

How long, O God, how long?


Sarah Blackwell is a contributing writer at Word&Way and a 2020 graduate of the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity. She is a former deacon and volunteers with youth and young adults at Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. She did not get a pandemic pet, but she did ask for and receive a new bird feeder for her pandemic birthday. Follow her writings at