Two “Assignments” for this week. Number one is easy. We’re already washing our hands constantly. Let me suggest something to add:
Let us take a moment to be grateful for water. We use water as salvation and baptism, cleansing and renewal. Let us simply pause to thank God for water to cleanse and heal. As you wash your hands, perhaps up a moment of gratitude and remember those who don’t have easy access to water or clean water. Offer up a prayer for the simply thing we take for granted, but could not live without.
Next assignment has a preamble:
Lent. We’re in the midst of this time of turning inward, temptation, and…testing. Perhaps this is our testing. We come each week to church to learn to become the best versions of ourselves. To learn to walk in the world with Grace.
We use Jesus as our example. He is tempted by the devil, we are confronted with a testing where there are no “right” answers. Where we get to put all that we’ve learned into practice. How do we offer comfort and love in a time when we are confronted by our own fears? How do we not get swept up into a maelstrom?
It’s easy to get spun into a tizzy. Everyone else is. If we don’t pay attention, we can just get dragged along. We get fearful, then upset, and maybe we get angry.
Maybe we begin to ask where is God? Ask it. Where is God? Truly, ask it. Where is God?
Breathe. Breath. God is with us. The holy spirit is with us. Within us. We carry a piece of God with us, and as students of Jesus, this is our time to practice.
Jesus didn’t run away from the lepers or the strangers or the demons or even the soldiers that would take him to his death. He stayed right in the midst of it. With the people. How do we find balance? I’m not asking anyone to risk their health and wellness, nor the health and wellness of our community. I’m asking that we find calm to make the most rational decisions. The best decisions with the information at hand. We don’t make good decisions in stress or when we respond with emotions.
Recently, I was watching something and the preacher said: “Go spread the word of God”. I thought, what does that mean? Truly, I was curious what he meant by “spread the word of God”. There’s a lot of different versions of God. My gaze landed on someone who was super excited to “spread the word of God” and I thought, does he know what that means? Does he know what the preacher intended? Even between these two people, you could tell what each of them meant was something very different. We’ve seen a lot of bad done “in the name of God.” Much of it mis-interpretation and mis-intention.
How do we do good? How do we know we’re doing good?
I’m getting to Number Two. This is our time. I’m not talking about taking over the world with Christianity or God. I’m talking about doing Good Work. Now. Already, there were people who couldn’t be here today that I talked to and they said: tell me what I can do to help. That’s what I’m talking about. We’re ready to serve.
Others I talked to were not ready to serve and look outward. They were still in need of their own self care first.
I’m often talking about Radical Self Care. Today, I’m going to shift that to Radical Love. Which starts with the self care. Those who are high risk, high stress, high concern, high anxiety, or close to high risk persons need to take care of self. First. They are the ones who need to stay home and hunker down. Self Love.
Next, the love and support spills over into family. You can’t take care of your family if you’re a ball of fear and stress. Or ill. Self Love, then Family Love (and support).
Once the family is cared for, loved, then community is next. This is where the “What can I do” question comes into play. And we, as a Church, are the anchor for that. What can we do, spreads to: so and so can do this, so and so can do that. Love Spreading to Community. Already we felt this as we supported one another to make decisions together.
Then, the world at large. What can we do for the bigger community. Local, then state, the country, then world. It all spreads. I promise you. But we can’t panic. We can’t panic. That’s our job. It’s what we’ve been practicing. Walking in the world with Grace and God. Faith and Spirit.
We must take care of ourselves and our family. But we don’t stay there. Don’t get stuck. We take care of ourselves to help others. Next, when we’re ready, when it’s our time, we step out of ourselves. We are communal creatures. We have a community to support.
Again, the self has to be cared for first. Self care is community care. When we can heal our own stress and fears, then we can serve. Again, this is NOT to say that the compromised or high risk should be out sacrificing themselves for the “greater good”. We’re not talking martyrdom…that’s for Jesus and the Saints. For us, it’s simply walking in the world practicing what we’ve learned. And if we’re stuck at home, we can make a phone call to check in with someone…or offer a gift by writing a letter. We always have something to offer.
Our time means, we remain calm so that we can make decision from a place of wisdom, not emotions. Reflective, not reactive. Not pointing fingers at one another as we each navigate what feels like the best choice for us with the information at hand.
Spread goodness. Spread safe feelings.
Be the quiet in the storm. And not just Be, but spread. Dare I say it? … I dare: Be like a virus, spread radical love.
Be beacons of peace, love, and calm.
Spread encouragement, especially to those who don’t know what to do, what they can offer, or how to respond.
That is what we have been ‘training” for. To be Good people walking the world. To walk in the world with Grace.
From: The Greater Good, Berkeley: Here are four ways we can encourage more altruism for fighting the virus. By Jill Sutte
1. Look to the heroes: remember the grocery store workers, money handlers, health care workers, those who voluntarily isolate themselves
Heroes create a warm feeling inside that inspires us, fueling optimism and a desire to act altruistically ourselves. While the temptation might be to focus on fear and everything going wrong, we can redirect our attention to those who are doing the right thing, which will lead us to be better citizens ourselves.
2. Stay calm and focused: it doesn’t help anyone to stir up panic about the situation, because we don’t think as clearly when we are in emergency mode.
Go for a walk in a park or nearby woods and let nature soothe, talk to a calm friend, go to church, or yoga.
3. Show gratitude: when we show gratitude toward others, we let them know that their actions matter, which encourages more of the same kind of behavior
4. Remember our common humanity and show compassion: when we are fearful, our first instinct might be to cast blame on others, but when we recognize our common humanity and show compassion, we are more likely to pull together and to solve issues that may be complex. Give yourself some compassion.
Remember our social hygiene—looking for the heroes, staying calm ourselves, being grateful, and remembering our common humanity.