The Coronavirus continues to spread all over the world. Each day there are more restrictions: closed schools, churches, restaurants, bars, libraries, hair salons; no sports; no gatherings of more than 10 (last I heard); weddings, elective surgeries, vacations, elections, tax deadlines, all being put on hold. And now we practice “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” as we check anxiously for the latest update–which seems to change for the worse hourly.
My question is this: How are you doing with all of this? How are you feeling–fearful, angry, frustrated, depressed, vulnerable, confused, bored, numb? What do you think of the slower pace of life this crisis has forced upon many of us? Has your prayer been affected by the virus? Is it more earnest, more difficult, more expansive, more sincere, more bewildered? What do you miss most: social interactions, your normal schedule, greater financial security, going out to eat, going to church, watching sports?
Do you see any good things happening as a result of this pandemic? If so, what? I have a sticker on my community car that says: Kindness is contagious. I didn’t put it there, and sometimes I want to remove it. (Too much pressure!) But I strongly believe what it says. COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of kindness going around. Have you noticed it too? Our Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, suggested we might even use this time to write letters to family and friends. His audience snickered a little. He defended his remark. “Yes,” he said. “People still like to get letters!” How true–especially anyone who is isolated or not online.
I’d like to pass on this beautiful poem by Rev. Lynn Ungar, an ordained minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church. This poem, entitled “Pandemic,” has spread around the world via the internet—faster than the coronavirus! So, you may have already seen it. I tracked down a website where you can read more of Ungar’s poems: https://www.uua.org/offices/people/lynn-ungar
“Pandemic” by Rev. Lynn Ungar
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath–
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we shall live.
PS: If you’re looking for Mass, try your local diocese for Mass online or EWTN. Bishop Robert Barron (and another priest) of Los Angeles celebrate Mass online: Go to “Word On Fire daily Mass.” You can access Mass throughout the day. I’ve also tried several parishes in my area too. Check their websites: Church of the Resurrection in Solon, OH, St. Ambrose in Brunswick, OH, and St. Helen’s in Newberry, OH.
Also: there’s a little treat at the end of this blog.
Our song today, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” was written in 1708 by Isaac Watts. It’s a paraphrase of Psalm 139. I chose an “oldie” to link us to our ancestors of the faith (both Christian and Jewish) who, amidst their hardships and trials, trusted in God’s love and providence.
The Little Treat: If you need a break from all the heavy news, I suggest you view a short video of baby goats frolicking in their pajamas! For some reason, I couldn’t embed it or provide the link. But just google “youtube baby goats in pajamas” and several videos come up. Click the one that is 2 mins. and 58 seconds long entitled “The Greatest Goat Kid PJ Party Ever!” The kids live at SUNFLOWER Farm Creamery in Maine. They sometimes wear pj’s at night to keep them warm. For me, there’s no surer sign of spring on a farm than baby animals!
I gave you lots of questions to reflect on today… plus a beautiful poem, a song, a baby goat video… I welcome your responses below.