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.