On September 11, 2001, on the way home from work, I stopped at a traffic light next to a stranger in a pickup truck and felt this totally unexpectedly wave of love and connection. I imagined we all had some shared experience and needed a giant group hug. I feel the same way now as Covid drags on with no foreseeable end in sight. On some level, we are all going through the same thing, even if our own circumstances and impacts differ a lot; we are all having to adjust and adapt in uncertainty, continually. People are grumpier, there is more road rage. Mental health challenges for students are skyrocketing. Teachers, nurses, many others are leaving their jobs in droves. We no longer speak of the silver linings we may have felt two years ago.
Change has come and will keep coming. Rapid change and forced readjustment may well be the new normal. If there is ever a time when we must accept that there is no “business as usual”, it is now. At the MLK March a couple of weeks ago I heard the refrain, “what we can’t do alone, we can do together”. It reminded me of these words from the most excellent book Lost Connections, by Johann Hari. He writes, “When people belong to a tribe they have an incentive to treat people well. A strong impulse in favor of connection simply produces better outcomes for survival.”
As we share the disappointment of not yet having a grand re-opening of our beloved church, Hari’s work offers some hope; this is the core of my message this month. “Don’t be you, be us, be we. Be part of the group. Make the group worth it, let yourself flow into other people’s stories and let their stories flow into yours…Be connected with everyone around you. Be part of the whole.”
That’s all I’ve got. Reach out, across, between, among. Come to a book study, a grounds work party, or coffee hour, meet and talk with people (even on Zoom, especially on Zoom) and let yourself be dazzled by their sparkling humanity.
In love and faith,