The UUCM interim ministry team will now be sharing a weekly pastoral message on Wednesdays. Rev. Meg, Rev. Terri and Arif will take turns writing or recording a video. This replaces Friday’s “In the Interim” post from the troika. The Friday Update email will continue to go out with events, announcements, news, and board updates. This week’s message is offered by Rev. Terri.
My co-worker Marvin (as many of us are calling our pets these days) is a six year old rescue terrier mix who is dog reactive and doesn’t like surprises. The shelter-in-place order has been really hard on him because so many people and dogs are out walking. Marvin is particularly on edge when we head out now because he knows it’s like doggie rush hour all day long.
For the first block and a half of yesterday’s walk, he howled in anticipation. No dog in sight right then, but Marvin just had to let it out. I hear you, little dude, I said, about ready to join him. Some moments call for a howl.
My primary coping mechanism has been to let my sleep habits fall completely apart. I pull frequent all-nighters either sewing or sinking into old, favorite Grey’s Anatomy episodes. My spouse copes by keeping firmly to his regular corporate schedule, including getting up at 4:30 am. Late last night, I helped a parent friend cope by remotely fixing an HDMI connection so she can simultaneously use her laptop for work and stream Disney+ on a non-smart TV for her young child.
We’re all doing the best we can. This cannot be emphasized enough. We’re all doing and being the best we can, and we’re all processing and reacting to the pandemic differently because how can we possibly take in its full magnitude and impact?
Living through this all is a trauma. Trauma itself shuts parts of our brain down, and we might not be able to recognize or even believe that we’re actually experiencing trauma, so let me repeat. What’s happening is a trauma. Trauma specialists help us understand that we all have different means of surviving. There are myriad ways our individual and collective lives have been changed and will be changed even when the immediate danger of the virus has subsided.
A meme is going around social media with trauma wisdom provided by a therapist named Jennifer Yaeger, LPC. It ends with the following:
“When in the midst of trauma, just getting by emotionally and functionally is okay. Lowering expectations and being kind to yourself and others is vital.”
It matters that we are navigating this as part of a faith community. It matters that we have a place to practice mutual care and love … a place to practice giving and accepting help … a place to practice how to be in whatever a moment requires. We are not, as Jean Shinoda Bolen writes, human beings on a spiritual path. We are spiritual beings on a human path.
Small Groups Forming
We hope to soon offer opportunities for small groups of people to connect together online or by phone. Some may provide space for deeper reflection into our real humanness through guided circle sharing. Others may be a chance to learn or try out different spiritual practices to help ground ourselves in kindness, resiliency, and compassion.
We know that some of you are juggling a lot. We also know the immense strength and support that comes from these types of conversations and sharing in small gatherings. If you are interested in hosting or being part of a one-time, short-term or ongoing group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your help in making these groups available. Thank you!