Dear First Parishers,
I have been thinking about all of you as each day, the cases of coronavirus grow in number and the impact grows greater and greater. I am grateful for you and your caring for one another, for our First Parish community and for our larger communities as well.
I have appreciated seeing those of you who were able to join the Virtual Coffee/Tea check ins. The last one for this week will be tomorrow evening (Thursday) at 6:30 pm. I will put the Zoom information at the bottom of the email. They last between 45 minutes to an hour and are just a nice pause to hear how other people are doing. If there is continued interest, I will schedule another couple check ins for next week. And of course,It has been lovely to see so many of you at our online worship services. We are still learning as we go. I appreciate everyone’s patience as we put pieces into place. Stay tuned for updates.
As all of this has been swirling around us, I have had one of Mr. Rogers’ songs going through my head:
I like to be told
If it's going to hurt,
If it's going to be hard,
If it's not going to hurt.
I like to be told.
I like to be told.
What is hard right now is the unknown of all this. Mr. Rogers was right. We would like to be told what is going to happen and when it is going to be all over and when there will be a vaccine and when we can return to our normal lives. What we are learning is that it is going to take time—weeks, maybe months—for us to see this through. We are not going to figure it out all at once. And we need to learn to live with a level of uncertainty that feels pretty uncomfortable. So, I am realizing that we need to pace ourselves for the long haul. I have been in so many conversations about what we are doing and should be doing. And they are important conversations because we do need to do things differently. At the same time, though, we can only do so much and I, for one, can exhaust myself in worry of all that I am not doing. So, with a group of colleagues today, I shifted the question to “How can I be in this time?”. We stopped talking about Zoom meetings and online worship and phone trees and started talking about faith: about what grounds us and connects us and makes our living gracious. We remembered the words, the stories, the prayers, the poems, the hymns and songs, the rituals that had seen previous generations through things like this and worse. Times of long and difficult unknowing. We didn’t fix anything, I know, but it was a powerful conversation that lifted my spirit.
Serving as long as I have, I have collected my own canon, writings that are sacred to me, that speak to my faith, to what grounds and connects and makes my living gracious. One of them is this poem by Wendell Berry which you hear me use often in worship:
When despair for the world grows in me and I was in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free. (#483 in Singing the Living Tradition)
So wash your hands, eat right, sleep, and check in with each other, virtually.
Rev. EllenHealing ConversationsIn keeping with the commitment in our First Parish covenant to care and be present to one another in our joys and sorrows, Rev. Ellen and the Pastoral Care Team offer this grief and loss group on the second and fourth Mondays of the month for virtual check-ins via Zoom to nurture and hold a sacred space to share stories, experiences, and emotions around love, loss and grief in a spirit of mutual care and deep listening. This is an ongoing group that folks in our First Parish community can join during the year, while maintaining it as a confidential and supportive space. The Zoom session will last only as long as needed for people to check in and get support if needed.
If you are interested on joining, please contact Rev. Ellen