Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By now many have heard of the death of Jane Beach. She was the cyclist I mentioned in worship this past Sunday. Whenever an educator dies, families and children hurt. I encourage your prayers for the Beach family and I ask you to say prayers for the students and families of Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.
In recent weeks, I have heard people say that there is a feeling, particularly now during COVID, of things "piling up." In some ways I think it is important to say that this "feeling" is more than a feeling; rather, it is a fact. Things are indeed piling up. COVID is something we cannot be certain about. It is something that is unknown and it is something that is legitimately scary. Decisions that were at one time easy, like "of course, I will send my children back to school," are now decisions that come with worry, anxiety, and nervousness. These feelings pile up. If you add to this the current reality of financial uncertainty, lack of meaningful physical contact with friends and groups of people (i.e., Church), you have a perfect climate for worry and fear, which can compound on top of each other in pretty big piles.
I have found it helpful to take some time each day to do two things. Since Susan's sermon about wellness, I have taken up the practice of savoring -- taking time to savor the good things in my life, moments of joy, love, hope and peace. This has allowed me to orient toward the good. It has been a meaningful and helpful practice.
I have also found it helpful to separate my worries, asking myself, are these things really related or are they separate? Are some of those things that are separate, things I have the power to change or address? If so, then I make a plan and I do my best to follow it. My plans don't always work, but a plan gives me a sense of purpose and calms my anxiety. For the latter, the things I do not have power over, I have found that voicing my concerns to a friend or Denise, and then to God helps. Jesus reminds us in scripture to pray and to pray for specific things -- to name our fears, dreams and hopes -- and place them in the hands of God. When I can name my fears, when I can dismantle the piles, breaking them into smaller piles, I find it easier to cope.
Things are piling up, but the piles do not need to be mountains. My prayer for you all during this time continues to be physical wellness, spiritual wellness, emotional wellness. If I or any of our staff can be of assistance in helping you with any of those things, we will. To lovingly serve is St. Martin's call. St. Martin's may not be meeting in our building, but we are still a community, which means you are never alone. To be well and free of fear is God's call to all of us. I hope these strategies help.