Feeling Blessed

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going.  What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

~Thomas Merton

If ever there was a time to heed Thomas Merton’s words, it is now.  The new Shelter in Place instructions have begun and our lives have taken a turn that we really have never gone down.  As we watch, state after state and the national government are requiring stricter and more stringent guidelines to follow to ensure the containment of the Covid-19 virus that has killed some and sickened so many thousands.  I feel lucky that our government has begun to take actions for containment and pray that the citizens here in this country will heed them and abide by them.  It feels hard though, doesn’t it?  We can’t stand near each other, hug each other, go places, or laugh with one another in person.  All we have now is our technology and actually that is a blessing that we can look at.

One of the by-products that I feel is a blessing is how our planet is now being taken care of in a much better way.  I hear that the Chinese for the first time in I don’t know how many years can actually see the sky.  The pollution has dissipated so much that they can see the sky.  Half of our planes are grounded and so many working from home here in the US has helped our air to become cleaner.  We’re using less gas and electricity.  And yes, businesses are suffering, lacking customers and income, so many hourly workers are having their hours cut with no benefits or pay to replace their income.  How will they pay their rent and utilities and child care?  Our world right now is turned upside down in a way, as Americans, most of us have never experienced.  I’ve never entered a grocery store before where there wasn’t a single egg to buy, any paper products, especially toilet paper.  I can only imagine that this is what my parents experienced during World War II.  They had rationing, you could only buy so much, and they used to tell me about this.  But until one has experienced this first hand, it’s really kind of hard to understand.

Our congregation is experiencing a new way to worship.  Last Sunday we held our first streaming Sunday service with our Youth providing the entire service and it was wonderful!  It also was so gratifying to see our members log in and attend online and then later give praise and admiration to our youth for a job well done.  There are many changes with which we will have to accustom ourselves in the coming weeks.  We did not include Joys and Concerns and are working on a way to do that in the next services to come.  We are looking at creating some Zoom meetings just to connect with each other and be able to talk to each other, kind of like Small Group Ministries online.  I am going to have a Coffee Chat on Zoom so look for that!  We also have our Pastoral Associates team calling every single one of our members to check in and just say hi and find out if all is well and if anything is needed.  We have members who have offered to go shopping for other members who can’t leave the house.  We are a community and we are still a community.  We are coming together in a new way.

And our DRE Shawn is working on activities online for our children and youth to be able to get together.  Stay tuned for those possibilities too!

Yes, things are different.  Yes, we wish they were the same.  And some of us are tech savvy and feel like this is an easy transition.  And others are not and are dreading being online, might be scared of it, might not have the equipment to be online.  So we need to help each other find our ways to connect, to show that we are a community.

Thank you so much to all the members helping us live through this new time!  Thank you Board of Trustees, all the members on the Pastoral Associates team, our DRE Shawn, our Office Administrator Sandra, all the people helping with tech and scheduling.  We know you are there doing this work and we thank you and are very grateful for your service.

Help each other, remember each other, talk to each other, know that there are so many out here for you.  If you have a need, there’s someone in this community that can help you fill it.

We are here for you.

I feel blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

Stay safe, stay healthy, blessings to you all.

In love,

Rev. Jo

 

Women’s History Month

This Sunday we will be honoring International Women’s Day during the month of March which has been designated Women’s History Month.  In looking at quotes made memorable about women, I have been struck by how these quotes spotlight a woman’s role as wife and mother and not the qualities that we just consider as human.   One from Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

“My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady and the other was to be independent, and the law was something most unusual for those times because for most girls growing up in the ’40s, the most important degree was not your B.A. but your M.R.S.”

Many of the quotes I read felt very demeaning and misogynistic towards women.  It came from the era in which they were spoken.  So many of the quotes were a century or more old, and only those true pioneers of old recognized the role women played during that time.  Louisa May Alcott wrote: “Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.”  She epitomized the spirit of women who saw life as giving so much more than they were allowed to have.  Even Ralph Waldo Emerson stated: “The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.”  Would he have said that regarding a man?  I doubt that age was even considered for men, other than to denote wisdom and experience.

We’ve come so far as a gender.  Female identified people are able to pursue so many more dreams today than even 40 years ago.  When I was very young, about the age of 8 or so, I told my father I wanted to become a doctor, as I had seen a documentary on the first heart transplant at school, narrated by Walter Cronkite.  He informed me that I couldn’t be a doctor, but I could be a nurse because men were doctors and women were nurses.  I pointed out that our family doctor was a woman and he said, yes but that’s because she inherited the business when her husband, our former family doctor, died.  I was too young to realize that she would have had to complete all the degrees and requirements to gain access to a medical practice and accepted what he said.  I was disappointed but I moved on.

My how life has changed.  I don’t believe today any child would accept that they couldn’t be what they wished to be.  And so many more parents would not dream of telling their female identified children they couldn’t be something that they give permission to their male identified children.   Yes, there is still much to be done.  Our transgendered children are still prohibited from truly living the life they wish to live.  There is much, much work to be done.  This month, let us revel in the victories we have experienced and let us rejoice in the strength and courage we are seeing in our young people.  Change is happening and as Unitarian Universalists we are a part of that change.  Thank you for all the work you are doing to give inherent worth and dignity to all people in the world.

Generous and grateful blessings to you all,

Rev. Jo