Covid-19 — More Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

01      Q: How can I protect myself if someone else gets groceries for me?

A: When you or others bring groceries to your home, leave them outside until you are ready to safely disinfect the items.  Remove each product from shopping bags and using a standard disinfectant, wipe or spray the outer surfaces of each plastic, metal or glass product container, leaving the surface appearing “wet” for at least 10 seconds.  Place on a clean disinfected surface.   Pour or dump items such as bread, cereal and crackers in properly cleaned storage containers, safely placing the wrappers and coverings aside.  Thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Valuable suggestions and methods to carry out these important procedures are discussed and demonstrated in this 13-minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=sjDuwc9KBps&feature=emb_logJPhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=sjDuwc9KBps&feature=emb_logo

 02      Q: I sent my family and friends the 13-minute video on safely unpacking groceries.  My son tells me not to do this – it has been debunked.  He sent me back an Internet article saying the CDC does not recommend sanitizing groceries nor does the World Health Organization.  The FDA stated there is no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus.  Is this true?

A: It is true that neither the CDC nor the WHO specify groceries in its recommendations for sanitizing.  But that doesn’t mean they recommend not doing it!  They also haven’t specified sanitizing automobile steering wheels, computer keyboards, and tray tables.  But all of these are covered under the broad guideline defining the need to disinfect “surfaces.”  It is also true that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not reported any studies of virus contamination of food.  But the absence of such studies doesn’t prove that food can’t be contaminated.

Following these conclusions that protective actions are not necessary can be quite dangerous.  Consider the following.  A cereal package was handled by a stocking clerk loading store shelves while coughing.  If we believe the scientific fact that this virus remains viable – can infect others – on cardboard for up to 24 hours, why would anyone assume that handling that carton a few hours later at home was safe?  Until proven otherwise, we have to assume that all surfaces can be contaminated by coronavirus-19.

03  Q: How long does coronavirus-19 remain infectious on different surfaces?

A: Many early reports answered this question with widely differing time intervals.  To clarify this scientifically, the National Institute of Health in March 2020 published the definitive answer:

  • “In aerosols for up to 3 hours”; (this refers to airborne particles)
  • “On copper for up to 4 hours”;
  • “On cardboard for up to 24 hours”;
  • “On plastic and stainless steel for up to up to 3 days.”
    • Per previous guidance – all “hard surfaces” are in this above group.)
  • In a related earlier study, similar coronavirus particles remained infectious for 2 years or more when frozen.

These data guides us in how best to schedule disinfecting surfaces.

04  Q: If you send out for prepared meals, should we worry that the delivered food may be contaminated with coronavirus-19 particles?

          A: The safest prepared food to order from others is likely cooked and “served hot” meals.  Have these delivered and left outside with no personal contact.  Remove cardboard or paper containers placing the meals on clean dishes and bring inside.  Wash hands or use hand sanitizer.  Using a microwave, reheat the food until steam is visible.  Heat destroys virus particles.  Cold meals including salads cannot be microwaved, washed with soap and water, or have disinfectant chemicals put on them.  Existing research doesn’t yet provide a definitive answer, but indications are the risk is probably quite low.

05  Q: How did authorities come up with 6 feet as the distance for “social- separation?”

A: We are asked to follow many guidelines, but are given minimal information why these rules were developed.  One leading way infection occurs is by hand contact with the virus on surfaces, then touching the face.  The other common way of transmission is direct contact with the virus suspended in the air.  There is a greater risk of infection when the virus particles are in greater concentration.  We hear that an infected person releases the virus when they exhale the virus “droplets” that come in contact with a healthy person’s mouth or nose.  The term “droplets” can be misleading – it implies visible specks of water that quickly drop to the ground.  A more accurate term is often used: “aerosol” transmission.  Breathe on a mirror, and the invisible aerosol mist appears as a visible patch of condensed moisture.

When anyone infected coughs or sneezes, a denser aerosol spray of microscopic virus particles is discharged over greater distance than when breathing normally.  They float in the air, and drift away becoming increasingly less concentrated over time and distance.  Consider this “thought experiment” (you don’t need to actually do this while shopping!)  Using a spray can of room air freshener, point it away from you and release a short split-second puff of spray.  Imaging walking forward and note how long you can go before you can’t smell the resulting spray.  Next, imagine spraying another short puff into your bent elbow.  Note how closer to you the scent remains – how aerosol particles are more confined in their density and spread.   Imagine that the distance you can smell the aerosol odor as the same distance that coronavirus-19 particles are spread in concentrations that enable them to infect you.

Many situations influence the concentration and spread of this aerosol.  Outdoors, especially when there is a breeze, these distances are nearer the source.  In a living room with the windows closed, they concentration may be farther away.  Rather than asking us to remember and calculate for each situation we may be in, authorities have agreed upon the distance of 6 feet separation as being uniformly safe for different situations.

 

 

Preemptive Radical Inclusion — UUS:E Virtual Sunday Service, April 5th, 2020

CB BealWatch UUS:E’s April 5th, 2020 virtual Sunday service with guest speaker, CB Beal on YouTube here.

Preemptive Radical Inclusion — UUS:E Virtual Sunday Service, April 5, 2020

Gathering Music (commences at 9:50 am)

Welcome, Announcements, and Introduction of Guest Speaker

Prelude “Gather the Spirit” (Jim Scott, ad. by Mary Bopp)

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” (Dawna Markova)

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
To allow my living to open me,
To make me less afraid,
More accessible
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
To live so that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom
And that which came to me as blossom,
Goes on as fruit.

 Opening Hymn “We Would Be One” (Words by Samuel Anthony Wright, Music by Jean Sibelius)

We would be one as now we join in singing
our hymn of love, to pledge ourselves anew
to that high cause of greater understanding
of who we are, and what in us is true.
We would be one in living for each other
to show to all a new community.

We would be one in building for tomorrow
a nobler world than we have known today.
We would be one in searching for that meaning
which bends our hearts and points us on our way.
As one, we pledge ourselves to greater service,
with love and justice, strive to make us free.

Further Introductions  (Gina Campellone)

Story “There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon” (Jack Kent)

 Musical Meditation

Joys and Concerns

Musical Meditation

Offering 

This morning and throughout the week we’re dedicating our offering to Hartford Deportation Defense’s “Greater Hartford Immigration Fund.” Hartford Deportation Defense (HDD) is a group of Hartford-area neighbors who work to support families directly impacted by the US Government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation operations. HDD is led by immigrants and their allies, seeking to dismantle the deportation machine and resisting the mass criminalization of black and brown people. The Greater Hartford Immigration Fund, which helps pay the legal fees of families impacted by deportation proceedings, is also being used during the Covid19 pandemic to secure food for impacted families in the greater Hartford region, as well as to fund a network of impacted people who are producing face masks to share within the community. Thank you for your generosity. You can donate to the UUS:E Community Outreach Fund here.

Offering Music “This is Me” (Keala Settle, performed by Carole Capen-Kargher)

Homily “Preemptive Radical Inclusion” (CB Beal)

Closing Hymn “Spirit of Life” (Carolyn McDade)

Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion,
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free:
Spirit of life, come to me, come to me.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

 Coffee Hour and Zoom chat

 

We Can Make Home Made Face Masks for Medical Workers

Have time to sew? Have the requisite materials on hand?

As we’ve been hearing on the news, medical providers are running low on personal protective equipment due to the surge in Covid19 cases. The shortages include face masks. If you have time to sew, and if you have the requisite materials on hand, please consider producing face masks.

If you produce some face masks but aren’t sure what to do with them, let Rev. Josh know at (860) 652-8961.

 

Finding the Good Things — Virtual Sunday Service, March 29, 2020

Since Rev. Josh forgot to hit the ‘record’ button on Sunday morning, March 29th, we don’t have a video of the service to share with you. However, we would like to share a few of the elements from that service.

First, we used these words for the chalice lighting, written by the Luchetti family:

Brown skin or / white skin, / it doesn’t matter / which one you are. / It matters that / you love each other.

Second, here’s a video of Gina sharing her thoughts in response to her reading of Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With a Problem?”

Third, here’s the video of the UUS:E children’s choir which was put together by Pat-Eaton Robb, Jenn Richard, and Dan Thompson.

Finally, here are the words I shared, also in response to Kobi Yamada’s book.

“Finding the Good Things” by Rev. Josh Pawelek

“Every problem has an opportunity for something good. You just have to look for it.” Words from the children’s book author, Kobi Yamada, which Gina read earlier. The book is called “What Do You Do With a Problem?” And as Gina said, we have a big problem right now – this COVID 19 pandemic.

I think it’s true statement: every problem carries with it an opportunity for something good to reveal itself to us. I certainly think it’s true with this pandemic. I have faith, that even in our most difficult moments, even in the midst of our struggles to adjust to isolation, lock-down, social distance, even in the midst of encountering our deepest fears, there are opportunities for something good waiting to reveal themselves.

I hear myself say these words, and my own inner critic says ‘Josh, how can you say that? It sounds naïve. It sounds unrealistic. It sounds unhelpful. People have lost work. People have lost income. People have become sick and more will become sick. Some have died. Some truly don’t know how they are going to get through today, let alone tomorrow. It’s frightening.’ So to say to someone who’s really struggling, ‘there’s an opportunity for something good waiting to reveal itself to you,’ – that may not be helpful in the moment. That may not meet them where they are in the moment. That may not get them through the day. I get that. I know you get it too.

But I’m telling you about the faith I am finding over these early weeks of social distancing. I have faith that every problem brings with it an opportunity for something good to reveal itself to us.

Maybe the good starts small. For example, Gina found that staying home is an opportunity to learn something about herself. She found out that she really needs some structure in her life, a routine, a schedule. Having that makes her feel happy and energized. I think a lot of the children are learning that having a daily schedule is something that really helps when you have a problem like the one we’re in.

I am learning a lot about myself. I’m learning that it’s OK for me to be afraid. It’s OK for me to be anxious. It’s OK for me to be stressed out. These feelings are entirely normal and expected in a situation like this, and I don’t have to hide the fact that I’m feeling them from anyone. In fact, it helps when I talk about these feelings. They have less power over me when I talk about them. That’s something good that has revealed itself to me.

I am also learning that when I have things to do around the house – cleaning the bathrooms, scooping the cat litters, working in the yard – I can really sink into these tasks. They become meditations. I meditate on the tasks and only the tasks. And as I meditate, my fear, anxiety and worry seem to fade away, and I feel better. I feel energized and happy. I know the negative feelings will come back—there’s no way around that—but I’ve learned that I can get a break from them. That’s a good thing that has revealed itself to me.

But we’re still at the beginning. Right now we’re just over two weeks into this life of social distancing. We’ve got many more weeks to go. That means there are many more good things waiting to reveal themselves to us. Even in our most difficult moments the good things are there. What might those good things be?

Might we learn that we are stronger than we realized? Might we learn that we are more resilient than we realized? Might we learn that we are more courageous than we realized? Might we learn that we are more creative than we realized? Might we learn that we are more patient than we realized? Might we learn that we are more compassionate and caring and loving than we realized?

We know that the people in our UUS:E congregation care deeply about each other, but might we discover in new ways just how deep that care goes?

We know that the people in our UUS:E congregation have special connections to each other, but might we discover in new ways how truly important those connections are?

We know that the people in our UUS:E congregation care deeply about people in the wider community, but might we gain new insights into how deep that care goes? Already this past week we’ve organized a few people in our congregation to drop food on the porches of people in Manchester who are stranded at home with very little or no food. In all my time as a minister I never imagined I would be organizing that kind of ministry. Food drops! But that’s what’s needed right now. People who are able to do it have volunteered to help. What an amazingly good thing. (And by the way, if you are willing to participate in a food drop for somebody who lives near you, send me an email. I’ll add you to the list.)

I urge you to look for the good things that come along with this pandemic problem. Have faith that good things are there despite how bad things are. Have faith the good things are getting ready to reveal themselves to you. When they come, pause and notice them. Express gratitude. Then carry on, strengthened in the knowledge that there is good in midst of this very challenging problem.

Amen and blessed be.

 

 

 

Special Request from the Sanctuary Team

Dear Friends:

The Sanctuary Team wishes to acknowledge that this is a time of hardship for many people. The more we learn, the more we know that COVID 19 strikes all age groups, with the more severe symptoms usually, but not always, occurring in the elderly. With ongoing support from our Sanctuary fund, and a part time job at Wendy’s, Rocky is currently doing okay financially, but we don’t know what will happen with his job in these uncertain times. He is also continuing to apply for other jobs, along with all of the people who have been laid off, so this is a hard time to be looking. The Sanctuary Fund does not have enough money to maintain this level of support through the end of October when his lease runs out and when he knows he will need to fully support himself financially. Therefore, we are again asking for donations to the Sanctuary Fund. If October arrives and there is extra money in the fund, we will donate it to an organization that works with Asylees, Refugees, or Immigrants. Thank you for your continued support. Rocky is sincerely appreciative as well.

To pay by check: please write ‘Sanctuary’ in the memo line and send check to: UUS:E 153 Vernon St. West, Manchester, CT 06042

To pay by credit card or PayPal-, go to our GoFundMe Account at www.gofundme.com/help-a-sanctuary-family-in-crisis

Thanks for your support!

Finding the Good Things — Virtual Worship, March 29, 2020

 

Gathering Music (begins at 9:50am)

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude “All Good Gifts” (Stephen Schwartz)

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words (the Luchetti Family)

Brown skin

or

white skin,

it doesn’t matter

which one you are.

It matters that

you love each other.

Opening Hymn “‘Tis a Gift to be Simple” (American Shaker tune, words by Joseph Bracket)

Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Story “What Do You Do With a Problem?” (Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom)

Musical Meditation

Joys and Concerns

Offering  Message from Beth Stafford, Executive Director of the Manchester Area Conference of Churches

Offering Music  “You Can Count on Me” (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine)

Homily “Finding the Good Things”

Closing Hymn  “Prayer For This House” (Lyrics by Louis Untermeyer, Music by Robert N. Quaile)

May nothing evil cross this door,
and may ill fortune never pry about
these windows; may the roar
and rain go by.

By faith made strong, the rafters will
withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill,
will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
touching our lips with holy wine,
till every casual corner blooms
into a shrine.

With laughter drown the raucous shout,
and, though these sheltering walls are thin,
may they be strong to keep hate out
and hold love in.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life

And hope for the community of earth

And love of the light in each other

Be ours now, and in all the days to come

Coffee hour / Video Chat

Deepening Connections — Virtual Worship, March 22, 2020

Dear ones: You can view the March 22 virtual service here.

For those who are interested, the story Gina read, Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry,” can by viewed here.

I mentioned a March 12th New Yorker article by Robin Wright which you can find here. (Thanks to Nancy Pappas for suggesting this article.)

I shared some suggestions for conversation questions from New York Times Style section  columnist Daniel Jones’ 2015 piece, “36 Questions that Lead to Love.” You can read that article here.  (Thanks to Beth Hudson-Hankins for suggesting this article.)

And here are the words to my prayer:

This is so hard. We are praying. We are praying that our prayers may do some good.

We are praying for health care workers. We are praying prayers of profound gratitude for their heroic efforts not only to address Covid19, but to respond to all the other health concerns that don’t go away simply because we’re living with a pandemic. We know they are already overworked, stretched thin, carrying their own fears and anxieties. We pray that they may stay strong, stay healthy, get the resources and rest they need to continue in their incredible, life-saving work.

We are praying for first responders. We are praying prayers of profound gratitude for their heroic efforts to respond to emergencies in the midst of a pandemic. We know they are already overworked, stretched thin, carrying their own fears and anxieties. We pray that they may stay strong, stay healthy, get the resources and rest they need to continue in their incredible, life-saving work.

We are praying for everyone whose work supports food production and food distribution, but most importantly we are praying for grocery store workers at Stop and Shop, Big Y, Shopright, Priceright, Highland Park Market, Whole Foods, Aldi, C-Town Supermarkets, IGA, Shaws, Price Chopper, BJ’s, Costco and all the rest. We have such gratitude for those workers keeping shelves stocked as best they can, cleaning, helping. We pray that they may stay strong, stay healthy, get the resources and rest they need to continue in their incredible, life-saving work.

We pray for all those who have lost jobs, who have had to close down businesses, who have had to lay off staff, who have lost regular income. We are praying for all those who are trying to figure out childcare now that their children are home from school. We pray that they may stay strong, stay healthy, get the resources and rest they need to continue making their way, day-to-day, finding solutions to perplexing problems.

We are praying for all those who are and will be sick with Covid19. We are praying for the families of those who have died.

We pray that our efforts at social distancing will help, will help limit community spread, will help “flatten the curve,” will help save lives.

We don’t know what impact our prayers may have, but we know that as we pray, we orient ourselves toward doing what we need to do for ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, for the most vulnerable in our region. May our prayers center us, ground us, calm us, and enable us to endure this crisis with grace, dignity and love.

Amen and blessed be.

Virtual Order of Service, UUS:E, March 22, 2020

Gathering Music (Begins at 9:50)

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude “Minuet in C” (performed by Simone and Ryan Ford, with special guest appearance by Izzie)

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words “Warmth and Light” (Valeria and Valentina Celadita)

Candle flame bright,

thank you for lighting the world.

Thank you for lighting Mother Earth.

Thank you for warming my heart.

Hymn “Morning Has Broken” (Eleanor Farjeon)

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning

God’s recreation of the new day.

 Prayer / Meditation

Musical Meditation

Story  “Ruby Finds a Worry” (Tom Percival)

Joys and Concerns

Offering “Duets” by Jacques Féréol Mazas, (performed by Margeaux and Ryan Ford with special guest appearance by Izzie)

Reflection “Deepening Connections”

Closing Song “Love Will Guide Us” (Sally Rogers)

Love will guide us, peace has tried us,

Hope inside us, will lead the way

On the road from greed to giving.

Love will guide us through the hard night.

 

If you cannot speak like angels,

If you cannot speak before thousands,

You can give from deep within you.

You can change the world with your love. 

(Repeat first verse.)

Extinguishing the chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life,

And home for the community of Earth,

And love of the light in each other,

Be ours now, and in all the days to come.

Finding Life: Thoughts on Wisdom

Rev. Josh Pawelek

Friends: the link to our March 15th, 2020 Sunday morning service is here.

Note: this is the first time we’ve ever done this. We didn’t have good mic placement on the piano, so Mary’s beautiful playing doesn’t come through well. We’ll be working on this and other glitches during the week to improve the overall delivery for the coming weeks.

Here’s the test to the homily:

“At the first, before the beginning of the earth…. / Before the mountains had been shaped, / before the hills, I was brought forth…. When he marked out the foundations of the earth, / I was beside him, like a master worker…. / Happy is the one who listens to me, / watching daily at my gates, / waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life.”[1] The voice of Chokhmah, in Greek Sophia, Divine Wisdom, as reported in the Hebrew book of Proverbs. “Whoever finds me finds life.”

Our March ministry theme is wisdom. My goal in this homily is to offer some thoughts on wisdom that will hopefully serve us well now that the coronavirus has upended our lives.

I offer my reflections fully aware that none of us here—and virtually no one on the planet—has ever lived through a true global pandemic. Anyone alive today who lived during the Spanish flu of 1919 would have been baby or a young child at that time. In response to the coronavirus there’s a lot of good advice out there, and a lot of bad advice. There are people taking it seriously. There are people taking it not so seriously. I’m wondering this morning what Divine Wisdom might have to say about our situation.

The ancient Israelites had multiple traditions of wisdom or chokhmah. At its most basic—what scholars often call traditional Jewish wisdom— chokhmah enabled the ancient Israelites to live with righteousness, justice and equity, as well as shrewdness and prudence.[2] Chokhmah counseled the fear of God and the avoidance of sin.  “My child,” admonished the author of Proverbs, “ if sinners entice you, do not consent.”[3] So, in the very least, traditional wisdom had something to do with knowing right from wrong, with living a moral life.

But Chokmah is more than this. She’s a character, a personality, an entity, a presence, a spirit, a prophetess. In Proverbs she “cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.… at the entrance of the city gates she speaks.”[4] She issues warnings and threats to those who fail to heed her call. “But those who listen to me,” she says, “will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”[5]

She says she’s been around since the beginning. “When he established the heavens, I was there,” she says. “When he marked out the foundations of the earth, / then I was beside him, like a master worker;”[6] She’s an ancient divine being. Divine wisdom. Lady wisdom. She’s got power and authority. And she’s got answers. “Whoever finds me finds life!”

I love this assertion that wisdom has been present since the beginning. I imagine that if wisdom is an ancient power, a primordial force, a source of life, it must be pretty simple, pretty basic. It must flow with the regular patterns of nature; it must align with the cosmic order; it must speak to the heart. If wisdom was there at the beginning, then she must also reside in the sun and stars, in mountains, oceans, deserts and jungles, in rivers and rocks, bees, bison and birds. And she must reside in us. I imagine that even as life evolved and grew more and more complex, eventually producing us, still that simple, basic wisdom must have persisted, must have been there all along, must be there still, waiting for us to come to it.

To find wisdom today—the wisdom we need in this moment of global pandemic—we must get back to basics, return to simplicity, notice the obvious, notice what has been with us all along. We must peel back all the complex layers of our modern lives—the busyness, the frenzy, the stress, the competition, the need to get things done—peel it all back and rediscover the simple, pristine truths that lie beneath.

As much as we are unnerved right now; as much as we are frightened, as much as we are anxious, this quarantine time, this social distancing time, this lock-down time, this shut-down time is forcing us to pull back the layers, is forcing us to live more simply, is forcing us to be creative, is forcing us to get back to basics. The 20th-century Chinese writer-philosopher Lin Yutang said something helpful for a moment such as this: Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.[7] He is right. We need to keep things simple now. We need to front only the essentials. That’s the wisdom we need now.

Here we are, in the midst of a global pandemic. So much is cancelled or postponed. So much, including our congregation, is closed down to help prevent the spread of the virus. Many of us are just home now, hunkered down, trying our best to self-quarantine, waiting, figuring out how to pass the time, leaving a great many important things undone. We have very little choice. Though this is truly a crisis, can we also encounter this moment as an opportunity to live wisely?

The Unitarian Universalist religious educator, Lynn Ungar, beautifully expressed this opportunty in her poem, “Pandemic,” which she published this past Wednesday.

 

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.

Center down.

 

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are 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 all shall live.

 

So what are the basics? The essentials? Perhaps now that we cannot be in each other’s physical presence, now that we must practice social distancing, we will learn, in a very pure and simple way, the wisdom of making and sustaining deep connections with each other, with family and friends, with neighbors. Perhaps now we will come to understand, in a new way, why our connections matter so much. Because surely they will carry us through this crisis.

Perhaps now we will learn, in a very pure and simple way, the wisdom of centering and caring for the most vulnerable people in our midst, such that simple actions like washing our hands, bumping elbows, coughing into tissues, disinfecting surfaces, and simply staying home, are all expressions of our most profound love and compassion for our fellow human beings.

Perhaps now we will learn, in a very pure and simple way, the wisdom of paying attention to the present moment, the wisdom of really knowing our surroundings, the wisdom of being patient, the wisdom of going slowly, relaxing, resting, settling in.

Perhaps now we will learn, in a very pure and simple way, the wisdom of truly valuing our time, making it sacred, making every moment matter.

Perhaps now, through this learning, we will find life.  

Friends, we cannot escape this time of pandemic. So in the very least, let’s not squander what it has to teach us. Let’s listen for Chokhmah, for Sophia, for Divine Wisdom. May we now get back to basics, to the essentials: Connections, compassion, presence, patience, treating our time sacred.

In doing so may we feel that ancient breeze blowing from the foundations of the world. May we find life.

Amen and blessed be.

 

[1] Excerpts from Proverbs 8: 23-35a.

[2] Excerpts from Proverbs 1: 3-4.

[3] Proverbs 1: 10.

[4] Proverbs 1: 20-22a.

[5] Proverbs 1: 33.

[6] Proverbs 8: 27-31.

[7] The quote appears here: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/5894-besides-the-noble-art-of-getting-things-done-there-is. It comes from his book, The Importance of Living. Learn more about Lin Yutang at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lin-Yutang and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin_Yutang.