Last week I wrote about the coming (and present) threat of coronavirus, and I find that this is still at the forefront of my mind. As I write, the first cases have been reported in Michigan (in the Detroit area). Until now we could look on a map of states with reported infections, see Michigan didn’t have any, and feel a small sense of immunity. Not any longer.
I am thinking about practical considerations: we’ve decided not to hold hands during the benediction on Sunday mornings. We have more hand sanitizer in the building. But I am certainly aware that some places are cancelling schools, sporting events…and church services. We are a voluntary association. Nobody has to come to the Fellowship on Sunday morning or at any other time. And this place is important to us—valuable and life-giving.
What would it look like to have a period of time where we meet face to face very little or not at all? How could we sustain the connections we have with one another and nurture the connections we have to Spirit (God, the divine, truth and meaning, Beauty Within…whatever you might call it)—if we are doing it though a computer screen and not face to face? I have a feeling that we are going to be finding out before this crisis is over! We are starting to plan for virtual worship services in case we need to go that route.
Looking at the news from around the country and around the world—cities in quarantine, families in quarantine, cruise ships in quarantine; factories idled—I wonder if this pandemic is going to change our lives fundamentally. And if so, for only a short time or for a long time? It feels similar to other paradigm-shifting things that I have experienced in my lifetime. One is the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when we realized pretty quickly that things wouldn’t be the same after as they had been before. Another one that I’m thinking about is the cold war of the 1980’s, my childhood, when we contemplated a world with cities destroyed by nuclear bombs.
Last week I wrote here about the coronavirus and the fear of death. Today I’m thinking about it in the context of changing life. What if we can’t interact in public spaces the way we normally do? What if commerce if fundamentally disrupted and people lose access to paychecks and to the goods that we take for granted today?
And in moments of deep questioning like this, feeling the ground beneath me shift with uncertainty, religion helps me. By religion here I mean connecting to what is true within me that doesn’t shift; what is real between you and me; and what is beyond me in mystery. What is true within me is that I have breath in my body and I can be present, feel what I’m feeling, and know that in this moment I am OK. What is real between you and me is Love: pure love where the divine in me sees the divine in you. And in the mystery beyond I find strength and peace.
In the warming weather I walked by the Chippewa River yesterday and stood on the footbridge above it. The melting snow made the river brown and swift and strong. A man with two dogs greeted me and called me brother. The seasons will turn, the river will flow; and I have my place in it like the water, like the snow, like the dogs. I am part of nature unfolding in the mystery of time and space, of life and joy and sadness.
Chippewa River, flow beneath me.
Earth, turn and spin. Move around toward the equinox in our yearly journey, seemingly endless and unchanging; constantly and forever changing.
Breath, be alive within me, this breath the only one I can know. This breath one of a limited supply in my lifetime. This breath the infinite Now.
May I feel the joy, the sadness, the life, the connection to all that is.
May all beings know peace.
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Rev. Andrew Frantz
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