And then I received a message from a fellow UU minister entitled, “Lessons from my first pandemic.” He is referring to the AIDS crisis. With the wisdom that comes from surviving that dangerous time, he offers these four points:
• I choose to live with caution and not in fear. Fear causes me to be constantly reactive to possibility and suggestion and not present to the here and now. Caution allows me to make conscious choices that enable me to assess risk in every situation.
• Balance is important. Risk assessment includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If I try to protect my body in ways that sacrifice my emotional needs, I’m more likely to make a dangerous choice at some point to meet my emotional distress.
• We are all connected. My choices impact my community. As much as I’m trying to protect myself, I’m also trying to protect others. Testing and safety precautions matter.
• Everyone makes different choices. It is up to each of us to assess our own levels of risk. I need to set clear boundaries for myself and ask that those boundaries be respected. Trying to persuade others to have my boundaries is often not worth the effort.
-Rev. Darrick Jackson, Director of Ministries for Lifelong Learning, UU Ministers Association
I am grateful for the wisdom and perspective of Rev. Darrick. The second point about Balance strikes me especially. In leadership conversations at the UU Fellowship of Central Michigan, this notion of balancing health risks versus the spiritual and emotional benefits of gathering in person is always present. I love Rev. Darrick’s point that if I go too far in the direction of safety, I may sacrifice my emotional and spiritual needs--and then do something more risky later to make up for it.
This feels very relevant to me right now. For the past two and a half weeks I’ve been in near isolation: I’m doing all of my work at my home office instead of the UUFCM building; Sunday worship is on Zoom; I leave the house only to take a walk or do errands. Yet I received a visit from my adult children last weekend. This felt clearly in line with the balance I want and need—if any risk is worth it, that one is. And, others may not have chosen what I did.
What choices are you weighing? How are you balancing your spiritual and emotional needs with the health risks of exposure to COVID? How are you setting boundaries and communicating those boundaries to others? What help do you need in navigating this pandemic and keeping your body, mind and spirit healthy?
Source of All, guide us as we navigate this round of the COVID crisis.
May we lean on the wisdom of ourselves and others who have been through hard times.
May be balance our risks and our needs.
May we protect ourselves and others.
May we honor one another’s boundaries and choices.
May we ask for help when we need it.
Rev. Drew Frantz
January 20, 2022