Dear First Church Members and Friends,
I want to thank our colleagues, especially Rev. Sunshine Wolfe who have contributed to this letter as we support one another and our various congregations. Given the growing concern and spread of the COVID-19 virus, we’re writing to share more information and ideas we’re considering. It’s important to remember that though you may not be affected directly, others in our community are at risk and we must practice care for one another in this time of uncertainty. This is not the first crisis we as a nation or world have met and it will not be the last. We have survived and will continue to survive together. If you are feeling a lot of intense emotions at this moment, know that this is normal and understandable. You are not alone. Intense feelings can be overwhelming and prompt us to shut down or deny that anything is wrong. All of this is normal. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself and others.
The good news is that there are steps we can take to protect one another. We all can contribute to our collective and individual physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
1) Rev. Tania and I are discussing steps to bring worship online. We may begin offering a worship service that is both in person and on-line in the next week or two at both of our campuses. Our South Bay campus will start this effort this Sunday, March 15th. Please watch this space for more specific information regarding times and links.
2) Some of you may already feel the need to stay away from public places, but remember there are ways in which you can stay connected with friends and your community. We still need one another. Call a friend, play Words with Friends, chat with someone online, chat with a neighbor from one another’s doors or porches. Have your friends set a time when you will all go out and howl at the moon. Find creative ways to connect while keeping social distance- make a game of it. Get the holiday lights out and make different affirming messages each day with them. Tell jokes. Sing songs. According to your own ability, find the creative connection unique to you. Distance and connect! Distance AND. Connect!
I will be making phone calls to some of you on Wednesday, 3/18 between 4:30-6:00 and I’ll host a ZOOM meeting on Thursday, March 19th starting at 1:00. Just click this link:
I will find regular times to host Zoom connection times through the rest of March – please watch this space.
You can also request a phone call if you need to speak with me or Tania in private.
3) Stay away from information overwhelm AND stay connected to a few reliable resources.
In this day and age- there are tons of places to get information. News outlets make money on crisis and it is not in their best interest to limit that information. Pick two or three places that you will routinely check for information that have reliable and factual information on the virus. For example, you could choose the World Health Organization, your friend Cam who reads everything and distills on their FB page, and your local health department. You do NOT need all of the information (unless you do- some among us manage crisis by having all of the information, that is ok). If you are feeling overwhelmed by the information- you can choose your sources. It is better to pick what is manageable than it is to ignore this all completely.
This is a time of challenge and together we can help make it manageable for ourselves and our world. If your job has been affected (your job, i.e., service or tourist industry has shut down because of the virus or you’re sick and unable to work), or if you’re needing financial help to buy food or supplies, please let us know and we’ll do what we can.
Stay away AND connect. Stay away from what is potentially harmful and embrace creatively how we can connect in spite of it all. You are not alone (but if you are, reach out).
WASH YOUR HANDS by Dori MidnightWe are humans relearning to wash our hands.
Washing our hands is an act of love
Washing our hands is an act of care
Washing our hands is an act that puts the hypervigilant body at ease
Washing our hands helps us return to ourselves by washing away what does not serve.
Wash your hands
like you are washing the only teacup left that your great grandmother carried across the ocean, like you are washing the hair of a beloved who is dying, like you are washing the feet of Grace Lee Boggs, Beyonce, Jesus, your auntie, Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver- you get the picture.
Like this water is poured from a jug your best friend just carried for three miles from the spring they had to climb a mountain to reach.
Like water is a precious resource
made from time and miracle
Wash your hands and cough into your elbow, they say.
Rest more, stay home, drink water, have some soup, they say.
To which I would add: burn some plants your ancestors burned when there was fear in the air,
Boil some aromatic leaves in a pot on your stove until your windows steam up.
Open your windows
Eat a piece of garlic every day. Tie a clove around your neck.
My friends, it is always true, these things.
It has already been time.
It is always true that we should move with care and intention, asking
Do you want to bump elbows instead? with everyone we meet.
It is always true that people are living with one lung, with immune systems that don’t work so well, or perhaps work too hard, fighting against themselves. It is already true that people are hoarding the things that the most vulnerable need.
It is already time that we might want to fly on airplanes less and not go to work when we are sick.
It is already time that we might want to know who in our neighborhood has cancer, who has a new baby, who is old, with children in another state, who has extra water, who has a root cellar, who is a nurse, who has a garden full of elecampane and nettles.
It is already time that temporarily non-disabled people think about people living with chronic illness and disabled folks, that young people think about old people.
It is already time to stop using synthetic fragrances to not smell like bodies, to pretend like we’re all not dying. It is already time to remember that those scents make so many of us sick.
It is already time to not take it personally when someone doesn’t want to hug you.
It is already time to slow down and feel how scared we are.
We are already afraid, we are already living in the time of fires.
When fear arises,
and it will,
let it wash over your whole body instead of staying curled up tight in your shoulders.
If your heart tightens,
science says: compassion strengthens the immune system
We already know that, but capitalism gives us amnesia
and tricks us into thinking it’s the thing that protect us
but it’s the way we hold the thing.
The way we do the thing.
Those of us who have forgotten amuletic traditions,
we turn to hoarding hand sanitizer and masks.
we find someone to blame.
we think that will help.
want to blame something?
Blame capitalism. Blame patriarchy. Blame white supremacy.
It is already time to remember to hang garlic on our doors
to dip our handkerchiefs in thyme tea
to rub salt on our feet
to pray the rosary, kiss the mezuzah, cleanse with an egg.
In the middle of the night,
when you wake up with terror in your belly,
it is time to think about stardust and geological time
redwoods and dance parties and mushrooms remediating toxic soil.
it is time
to care for one another
to pray over water
to wash away fear
every time we wash our hands.
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