Rev. gail Marriner
UU Santa Fe Minister
Hello friends, I hope you are still well. It has been a crazy week. So far members of our congregation are still healthy, but many of us, if not most of us have been affected by this pandemic already. My mom had hip surgery last week. My sisters were with her immediately after her surgery and I was supposed to be with her when she went home. By the time that was to happen her senior living facility wasn’t admitting any visitors – so my brother drove from Madison to pick her up and take her home to his house – they wouldn’t let him in. He had to wait for her at the curb.I ended up cancelling my flight. It was worrisome and disappointing and inconvenient but we were lucky, we had the financial and human capital to navigate the rapid changes. And it all worked out. Not everyone is so fortunate.
You can’t see people’s vulnerabilities – some of us are worried about kids, or aging parents or dear friends who are immunocompromised. Others are worried about accessing medical care, or paying the rent and buying groceries. Everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s vulnerabilities are different and what makes each of us feel safe in these anxious times is different.
TP is not my go to comfort object. My family is with me, I have lots of books and good meaningful work. I have what I need to feel safe. We have a houseguest right now who takes solace in having sufficient olive oil and abundant garlic in the house and that’s fine too. What helps you feel safe? It’s an important question to ask and answer because feeling safe in this chaotic time calms your brain and lets you think more clearly. It’s not until we feel safe that we begin to think about the people around us as worried human beings coping the best they can. It’s not until we remember we are in this together, that our compassion is triggered.
There’s a story told in a couple of faith traditions about the difference between heaven and hell. In both cases the souls of the dead are seated at vast heavily laden banquet tables with long handled spoons or long chopsticks strapped to their hands. The handles are so long that it is impossible to put the food into your mouth. The souls in hell are pinched and starving, complaining bitterly, wailing and fighting. The souls in heaven are animated, joyful and well fed. The only difference is that the souls in heaven are feeding each other.
We can choose friends – we can choose to be afraid and angry, to mistrust and scapegoat one another – or we can choose to feed each other and our neighbors.
Last week’s challenge was to figure out what you needed to feel calm and to be safe and to reconnect with your support systems. This week’s challenge is to start figuring out how to feed each other and our neighbors – literally and metaphorically while we practice being safe. Pick up groceries for a neighbor, learn to use zoom, host a digital sewing circle or book discussion or sing along. Be careful and smart. Let’s feed each other.
Be well friends,
UU Santa Fe Board of Directors
Board of Trustees (elected membership) oversees our vision, direction, priorities and our committees.
It isn’t often that a Board must face an unknown that is as unprecedented and unpredictable as a Pandemic. Yes, there is war, there are floods, and there are famines. They all require a measure of resilience and dare we say, chutzpah. Fear of the unknown can bring us to inaction. But that isn’t what is happening in our community. We see the following:
With all of our hearts and minds...blessings.
Laura Solomon is the clergy intern at the Washington Ethical Society in Washington, DC, and an M.Div. student at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She believes in the profound beauty of connection and community, and the power to transform ourselves and our world when we join together to act about issues that matter. Laura lives in Sykesville, MD with her dog, Marshall.
"Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch."—Internet meme
While it’s true that we are not being called to war, it's also true that these are challenging times. I would argue that some of us are being called to do far more than sit on our couch. Most of us, in fact. All of us, probably.
I understand this meme: we need humor. We need to poke fun at this extraordinary situation, and it's healthy to do so. But we also need to be extraordinarily gentle with one another. Excessively gentle. Tender, even.
Some of us are being called to serve vulnerable communities. Some of us are being called to provide comfort, care, and support in new, challenging ways. Some of us are medical professionals and first responders taking risks. Some of us are accompanying the dying. Some of us are holding the fragile mental health of children and adults. Some of us are scared for ourselves, or for our children, or for our parents. Some of us are out of work. Some of us don’t know how we will pay our rent. Some of us are uninsured and scared. Some of us will need to spend days at home entertaining children—which presents myriad challenges for our own mental health, or our child’s mental health. None of us are unaffected.
Years ago, I did one of those mud run obstacle races. I didn’t struggle much with the actual physical obstacles (or the mud), but I had a moment of utter panic when I realized I had to change my clothes in a big tent where there was no privacy. My friend had her moment of struggle when we were in line and she had no choice but to wait patiently. My biggest learning was that while there were eight physical obstacles on the course, we all had a ninth obstacle.
That’s kind of what’s happening right now: COVID-19 has imposed eight obstacles that we're all contending with. But we each have nine—or more—obstacles. You have no idea what anyone else’s ninth obstacle (or tenth, or eleventh) is. You just know they have it.
We have no choice but to be gentle…excessively, generously, powerfully gentle.
Rev. Gail Marriner
UU Santa Fe Minister
The COVID-19 situation here in Santa Fe, and around the world is changing moment to moment so our responses will have to be nimble as well.
Right now we are making decisions for what we think will be a two weeks window. After that we expect things to shift again. Safety and connection are our two top priorities in this moment. So…
For safety reasons we are asking our UU Santa Fe groups and programs to meet virtually. The building will be open if you need to see someone on the staff–but the only groups meeting on the usual schedule right now are the recovery groups.
Starting this Sunday, March 15, through Sunday, March 29, we have one service which will only be lives-streamed as well as being recorded and placed on our YouTube channel. Go to the front page of uusantafe.org at 10:30 – we will be there!
We aren’t quite set up yet with our UU Santa Fe Zoom account (this is a video-conferencing app) but there are free versions you can use to send a link to your committee or covenant group members so you can have a 40 minute conversation face to face online. Steven can help you do this if you need support we hope to have our own platform by next week.
It’s more important than ever that we check in with one another: please call or email someone on your team, neighborhood group, covenant group, class, etc. and offer them encouragement and moral support and make certain they are ok. Please call someone in our community every single day! If you or someone you are in communication with gets sick or is in some other way impacted by the health emergency–please, please, please let me or Steven or Aaron or Mary Ellen know. We will do everything we can to help.
Finally, we can do this hard thing my friends. Times like this were what congregations and faith communities evolved for. We can do this because we will do it together.
Stay tuned to the website, the newsletter, the face book page.
Be well friends, we will be in touch soon.
Rev Teresa Hewitt
Erika Hewitt is the UUA's Minister of Worship Arts and Editor of Braver/Wiser. In addition to serving the UUA half-time, she also serves as a Unitarian Universalist parish minister (currently on sabbatical) and wedding officiant. It's a lot of ministries to keep track of, but she does it with playfulness, grit, and a hotline to Spirit. Erika offers deep gratitude to Becky Brooks—friend, muse, writing partner—for serving as reviewer of this reflection.
In this community, we hold hope close. We don’t always know what comes next, but that cannot dissuade us. We don’t always know just what to do, but that will not mean that we are lost in the wilderness. We rely on the certainty beneath, the foundation of our values and ethics.
I serve as pastor of a 60-member congregation in Maine, and every time I help decide whether the weather's bad enough to cancel worship, I know that someone’s going to grouse: the same weather can elicit responses from "There’s hardly any snow!" to "I can't possibly clear my driveway!" Sixty people looking at the same roads don’t just have different opinions, but also a multiplicity of perspectives.
Most of the leaders I know are being forced to translate that decision-making pressure to an unknown, potentially lethal virus whose patterns we can neither predict nor fully yet understand as it makes its way through a country of nearly 330 million people. It’s no wonder that those leaders are crumbling—not because of overblown fears of COVID-19, but because it’s distressing to make decisions that have vast, nearly unimaginable consequences for the people we love.
Should we ask people to come to work? Should we still hold our event, knowing that participants will receive soul nourishment but risk physical exposure? Should our family take this once-in-a-lifetime trip? Every Should we? is haunted by the Ghost of What We'll Wish We’d Known.
Ethical Culture Leader Lois Kellerman has said that the smallest number in ethics is two. I believe, moreover, that the most ethically-driven decisions prioritize the most vulnerable members of any given community. Moral decision-making hinges not on the "I" and not even on the interconnected web of "we," but on the most fragile strands in the web.
As our leaders make tough decisions—terrible by nature, because there are no "good" decisions in the chaotic fear of what looms—our communities are being tested for their tolerance for uncertainty, as well as for how much grace they choose to extend towards the leaders making those high-stakes but values-driven decisions.
Our communities—bless them, hold them, keep them—are also beginning to absorb the lonely, painful cost of "social distancing." If two is the smallest number in ethics, it's also the smallest seed of certainty; the way not to get lost. Because the ultimate test, when the fear and grief finally give way to clarity, will be knowing ourselves by how well we cared for one another.