I don’t know about for you, but this new Season of Separation, as Mother Sally called it in her article last week, has me a bit rattled. So many big changes in a short time — it’s mind-boggling. I’ve been worried about my own children in Los Angeles, where the virus has affected so many more people, and I’ve been worried about our St. Peter’s teenagers as they grapple with closed schools, remote learning, and so many other changes coming at them so quickly. I’ve been worried about our church members who are most vulnerable to this virus, and I’m worried about those who aren’t following public health experts’ advice. This worrying has been affecting me in ways that are new for me. I am not generally a worrier, having over the years, been able to allow prayer to soothe me, by reading scripture (Matthew 6:28-34 and Psalm 121 are favorites) and studying mystics like St. Julian of Norwich, when she said “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” And, because I’m such an extrovert, I find my comfort and joy by being with those I care about, like our St. Peter’s family. So where does this new season leave us, if you are worried, too?
I think it has given me more time to read again the Bible passages that have comforted me and to read saints’ writings that have nurtured my faith. And I’ve been buoyed by the video calls I’ve had with St. Peter’s staff, various youth ministry circles I work in, and participating in FaceTime Compline and Evening Prayer opportunities with prayer friends. I want to make sure that we extend options like these to our youth so we will be setting up group calls in the next day or two.
In the meantime, I want to share a poem, Pandemic by Lynn Ungar, a Unitarian Universalist minister, recently shared by Bishop Curry in his “Invitation to Grace.” This poem speaks to me in many ways, but most vividly about why my belonging to a church, this church, is so important to my well-being, especially in difficult times. I hope these words speak to your heart, as well.
by Lynn Ungar
What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath—the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart. Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Formation