Dearest Sisters and Brothers at FCOA,
I wrote the letter below to you all just over a week ago--in some ways it seems like a thousand years--but what I wrote then still seems to hold true in terms of our relationship to the coming of Good Friday, and how we might concretely cope in the moment now. As I write, the death toll from the Corona virus rises, and our state and the nation prepare for yet more cases and sadly more deaths. We are rapidly approaching that place where almost all of us will know someone who knows someone lost to this death dealing virus, and my family is no exception......I do believe this faith community has the faith and strength to hold Good Friday and Easter together, and not let go of the heart of our faith--the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I will be writing an Easter letter in addition to what Pam is wonderfully preparing to send out closer to the time, but I want to re-share the following:
A Story for you all:
A week ago, when I opened the church for food donations, I went through the Sanctuary on my way to the Narthex, and as I was going down the center aisle, I saw something on the floor. When I bent down to pick it up, I discovered a single blue crayon-exactly in the spot where Heidi and Dave always sit with Aidan and Leah--my heart almost burst with joy--it was as if Easter had flooded me, with hope and promise and the certain presence of God with us--in all things....
There have been so many moments in this uncertain time when I have been certain God is speaking, not only to us, but through us to a frightened and almost hopeless world. I think if any of you had found a little blue crayon in exactly that spot you too couldn't help but smile, recalling two beautiful children who are not only brother and sister but also best friends--children who miss being in our circle at church as much as we miss being in church together, children who are doing church at home, Mom tells me--continuing to be God's community where they are.
You are being God's community where YOU are. Some of you have scouted water and toilet paper for others, some have made property repairs and continued to pay our bills, some continue to be called out to work, while others are working from home with ALL the challenges THAT can bring!?. People are reaching both within themselves for strength to get through these difficult days, people are also reaching out to family, friends and neighbors to see how they are, and what bits of good news and yes humor! they can also share.
A few concrete things we can consider--FCOA's Survival Guide for Challenging Times!
Love Your Neighbor: Wash Your Hands Properly and Wave!
Wear bright colors--and makeup and jewelry if that's your style--even if you are not going out--color, like music, can positively alter our perceptions of the world.
Limit your intake of news each day, and listen to only credible health resources such as the CDC, state and local government sources--there is still so much to know, understand, and utilize in the fight against the Corona virus. The experts are not God; they are using God given gifts to try to work for the health of all.
Get outside in your yard a little each day--notice what is changing, beginning to come up and grow green--worship God in the beauty of God's Creation.
Before you even get out of bed each day, close your eyes again and think of something, however small, you can give thanks for. Try finding something else to give thanks for each time you wash your hands--the practice of gratitude does in fact crack open our deepest anxieties and fears--and will help us take our next steps into the challenges of the day.
Offer thanks to someone(s) you come across in the course of your day--the young grocery clerk, the postal carrier, your spouse, child, or grandchild--and if you don't see anyone in the course of a day, call someone, or write them a note--this is guaranteed to lift OUR spirits!
Get connected to what others are doing around the globe and in your own backyard to make the world a brighter, less anxious place--then share good stuff--YoYo Ma's global invitation through Songs of Comfort, the 4,500 retired doctors and nurses in Britain who have just signed up to work in the National Health System there, the amazing things Ashland is doing to take care of residents and businesses alike---you get this idea!
Find something you can do to add to that energy and hope--say fervent prayers, make a financial donation, send someone you love a smile, have a virtual cup of coffee with a friend--get creative with how to reach within yourself and share the compassion you find there.
Humor helps a great deal these days--and some wonderful stories are being posed on social media and the Internet. Find some laughter and share it! (I highly recommend looking at funny church sign boards on line!)
Light a candle--it really can brighten the darkness...
Use music to reset you mood--classical, bebop, Oldies, Jazz, reggae, polka, Big Band--there is nothing you want to listen to that Youtube can't provide! And seriously--if you need to be calmed, energized, moved, stilled, lifted up, or brought to a calm clear place--music is a powerful force in our lives-- you can rely on it during these times to help.
If nothing seems to help--tell God. There is no place we are that God is not present ---that is what the Cross is about--with all its pain and shame and suffering and glory and promise and new life. We are living Good Friday with our God. We also remind each other that we are an Easter people, and ours is a God of Hope. Good Friday and Easter are part and parcel of each other. Now more than ever, let us share what we each know about Good Friday and Easter now.
When I went into the Sanctuary this past Sunday I found two green crayons on top of the piano. I don't know how they got there--but they were for me a different sign--one of care to put them up and away from being trodden under foot--another sign of Life in a community I deeply love and admire. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share what you are experiencing in your part of Creation right now! You are ever in my prayers and thanksgivings...