Hello Beloved Community,
I am curious if you're sensing a low-grade (or medium or high grade!) anxiety and fear creeping in as reports of the COVID-19 spread and responses take form across our nation?
May I invite you to take as deep a breath as possible and come to center during this odd experience we're all sharing?
I wanted to reach out with a few thoughts about our response, as a community, to this state of emergency in our world, nation, state & city.
Fear is an odd sort of monster. It feeds on panic, anxiety, stress and lack of normalcy. It can be more contagious than physical viruses. The tap-root-faith-system of our community, Christianity, speaks about fear a lot. Phrases like, "Do Not be Afraid;" "Love Banishes Fear;" and "God has not given us a spirit of fear;" are repeated through Christian scripture and remind us that we do not have to feed or nourish the fear-virus. Fear is not an invalid emotion in panicked times, but we can choose to respond out of a different space. That response can be loving, rational and careful: one of love toward self, neighbor, earth and God. Around The Table - both physically when we gather, and when we are apart during the week - we will choose to honor the fear we feel but not to respond out of it. Instead, we will choose practical, wise love.
Let us feed the love-generator not the fear-monster!
"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love." 1 John 4:17-19, The Message
As of right now, our plan is still to gather on Wednesday March 18th for shared food and our regularly scheduled gathering as we shelter in the gift of each other's presence. Keeping appropriate physical distance, we will utilize the eastern practice of an upper body & head bow with hands pressed together at heart center as our greeting instead of hugs or handshakes. We do ask that if you or anyone in your household is remotely sick that you chose self-quarantine over risk of infection of others. If the number of cases of COVID-19 spike dramatically in Natrona County between now and then, we're working on a contingency plan for gathering virtually via internet & phone to be together. Stay tuned in for Monday's email for details.
Don't forget the kiddos. Kids pick up on the anxiety of all of us. Be present with them. Speak with them honestly and openly about their emotions. Give them age-appropriate facts and information by which to understand what's happening. Ask if meditation or prayer or play would be helpful to them as they process.
Your Board Leadership Team is praying specifically for you, your physical health, wellness, mental calm and emotional response to these testing and anxious times.
If you are immuno-compromised, or in need of physical support right now - please reach out to us -- by telephone and you can always find us on Facebook or email.
Below I am sharing a prayer, a poem, a mantra and a lovely & practical "checklist" if you're looking for concrete ways to respond. You may want to utilize these in your daily practices to help you "return home" to God as your source of peace and calm during these days.Reach out to your fellow Table community members a little more right now - make a phone call, send a text message or find them on social media. Ask if anything is needed.
As your Pastor, I love you. I am convinced that the God who is Love is deeply fond of you too. In the same way, let us love and serve each other so that those to whom love is a stranger might find in us, generous friends.
From the Studio of Love,
Pastor Libby & The Table Leadership Team
Mine are the eyes, ears, hands and feet through which God blesses the world.
I can ask for help.
We are not alone.
We are a beautiful web of relationships.
COVID-19 Check List (substitute "doubters and disciples" if Jesus isn't your jam, the full checklist still applies).A Prayer for a Pandemic
by Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Pandemic (A Poem)
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 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 another's hands.
(Surely that has become 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 the world your love--
for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.