Updated: Mar 17
Here we are living these weird days of social distancing and the disruption of our usual routines. We’re living the suspension of church services and the loss of classes, gyms, restaurants, pubs, and our vital support networks within our communities. We know why we’re suspending services and practicing distance: we’re acting in solidarity with everyone to stem the spread of the virus and to protect our most vulnerable neighbors. Though we know the why, the struggle can be the how to do these days.
Anxiety and fears are running high. Without a doubt there’s going to be financial ramifications to these days and we're feeling the loss of ample supplies of toilet paper and quick meals out at local spots with friends and family. We miss our gatherings and we miss worship with our faith families. What do we do with fears and anxieties in these times of social distancing? Stay connected! Make sure that you’re talking with one another, making phone calls, sharing texts and maintaining all the human connections possible.
Something else came to mind for me as we are moving into an eight-week suspension of in-person worship services: eight weeks is the average time it takes to create a new habit. A big part of dealing with anxiety in my own life has revolved around taking that negative energy of fear and directing it into something positive. For me, that’s often been making art. At times it has been video gaming, hiking nearby trails or learning to make sushi and Japanese omelets from YouTube videos. These eight weeks shouldn’t be surrendered to fear, but as much as we can, invested in growth. Is there a habit you’ve been thinking of forming? Is there a new routine you could work to establish? A new habit could be built around making art, writing, prayer, study, exercise or meditation. A new thing could be creating a healthful routine around going to bed, getting out of bed, going for walks or meal planning.
One thing I know is that just hearing the words “don’t be afraid” doesn’t always banish fear. Embracing those words, repeating them aloud, writing them down, living with them and prayerfully moving forward with the support of community and God’s Spirit, is the way we banish fear. Breathe deep and turn to the words of life. Each of us could spend the next eight weeks in the sermon on the mount, Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5-7. We might each read through the whole Gospel of Mark. And certainly, we should stay focused on thankfulness. I love the words of A General Thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer, pg. 836. Fear has a way of making us forget just how blessed we are in God and one another, but gratitude can name those blessings and strengthen our hearts.
What are your thoughts, coping mechanisms and responses in this time?
A General Thanksgiving, BCP pg. 836
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.