Reflecting on a Year of Ministry in a Pandemic – God is in the socks

By Donna Ellis 

2020 began as most do with lots to be done for the upcoming year. Plans were underway and gaining momentum. Then … everything came to a screeching halt.

The virus became a reality and we stayed home.

Always the optimist, I was reluctant to cancel anything. I wanted to think that staying home was just temporary and I needed to continue to get events organized. Everything was on schedule. I wasn’t ready to say the events were cancelled. To me, it meant not following through.

Somewhere between March break and Easter, the magnitude of this virus began to sink in and I realized that indeed, these events would not be taking place and I needed to connect with youth, children and families in new ways.

I regrouped and I hit the ground running. I figured out the Zoom platform and began holding junior and senior youth group meetings for an hour each week. I sent out emails to families to check in and I set up Bible study for teens. I read stories to children on Sunday nights. I emailed Sunday school lessons to parents and I created my first video for Holy Week (way outside my comfort zone). I had an incredible need to send out copious amounts of resources to families so they could create a similar atmosphere and opportunity for spiritual growth at home as we had in the church. 

I hit a wall. I was so focused on figuring out how to answer God’s call in this unusual time, that I had forgotten that God’s call was also to be intentional about self-care, my own spiritual needs and taking time off. Well, I was home, wasn’t I? I had a need to prove I wasn’t just “sitting around”. I had to look like I had it all together. 

 It took a good week to recover and reorganize my days to have time built in for prayer, exercise and self-care. Self-care turned out to be knitting socks. Not sure why socks. But there you have it. The feeling of doing something creative with my hands was very therapeutic. Making socks takes focus and a skill of manipulating four needles. The computer and cell phone got ignored as they dinged and buzzed away with some new information that I must know. The warmth of the wool passing through my fingers was comforting and the discovery of how the patterned wool played out in the completed rows was exciting. I found the process meditative, as if working on the sole of the sock was kindred to working on my own soul. I began to feel more whole and well.

While most socks knit by Donna Ellis during the pandemic have been given away, this pair was kept.

As a result of that intentional time and prayer, I found the ministry begging to reshape itself. No longer was it shaped by the “I have to do this or that” list. I did more listening. I asked questions. I did more praying. I was able to take a step back and assess where the needs were, what was working and were my energies were best placed. I still don’t have all the answers and often fall back into old ways, but God is always there, waiting to heal me in my next pair of socks.

Donna is a licensed lay worker and serves as the Youth, Children, and Family Ministry Coordinator at St. John’s, Ancaster.