These are the main texts from our virtual service on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
I am here in the building, by myself. But I am not by myself. I am with all of you in this new way that none of us really wants. Well, maybe some of us! I am here, rather than at home, because it is chaotic at home and it is peaceful and still here. Because at home I am worried sick about keeping everyone fed and entertained and well, both physically and mentally.
I need some space that provides a little distance from my worries. That is what I hope we can together create in this virtual space: a place to bring our worries, and to bring that peace we each need to know now, that we need to experience together. Let this space be a place for humor, a place to lay down your anxiety (or at least learn from it!), and most especially may this time be when we can ground ourselves in this faith we call Unitarian Universalism.
As we enter a new time, with so many others who are doing what needs to be done to flatten the curve, let us remember who we are and what we hold dear: compassion, service, kindness, and the belief that “we can do this.” Even when we don’t believe we can, “we can do this.”
Let us open our hearts to the invitation of this time together.
Let us dare to welcome whatever may come,
Trusting that, as we do, we are safe,
Held in this love that’s within us,
Between us, among us,
And throughout this time we have together.
We are humans relearning to wash our hands.
Washing our hands is an act of love
Washing our hands is an act of care
Washing our hands is an act that puts the hypervigilant body at ease
Washing our hands helps us return to ourselves by washing away what does not serve.
Wash your hands like you are washing the only teacup left that your great grandmother carried across the ocean, like you are washing the hair of a beloved who is dying, like you are washing the feet of Grace Lee Boggs, Beyonce, Jesus, your auntie, Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver—you get the picture.
Like this water is poured from a jug your best friend just carried for three miles from the spring they had to climb a mountain to reach.
Like water is a precious resource
Wash your hands and cough into your elbow, they say.
Rest more, stay home, drink water, have some soup, they say.
To which I would add: burn some plants your ancestors burned when there was fear in the air,
Boil some aromatic leaves in a pot on your stove until your windows steam up.
Open your windows
Eat a piece of garlic every day. Tie a clove around your neck.
My friends, it is always true, these things.
It has already been time.
It is always true that we should move with care and intention, asking
Do you want to bump elbows instead? with everyone we meet.
It is always true that people are living with one lung, with immune systems that don’t work so well, or perhaps work too hard, fighting against themselves. It is already true that people are hoarding the things that the most vulnerable need.
It is already time that we might want to fly on airplanes less and not go to work when we are sick.
It is already time that we might want to know who in our neighborhood has cancer, who has a new baby, who is old, with children in another state, who has extra water, who has a root cellar, who is a nurse, who has a garden full of elecampane and nettles.
It is already time that temporarily non-disabled people think about people living with chronic illness and disabled folks, that young people think about old people.
It is already time to stop using synthetic fragrances to not smell like bodies, to pretend like we’re all not dying. It is already time to remember that those scents make so many of us sick.
It is already time to not take it personally when someone doesn’t want to hug you.
It is already time to slow down and feel how scared we are.
We are already afraid, we are already living in the time of fires.
When fear arises,
and it will,
let it wash over your whole body instead of staying curled up tight in your shoulders.
If your heart tightens,
Science says: compassion strengthens the immune system
We already know that, but capitalism gives us amnesia
and tricks us into thinking it’s the thing that protect us
but it’s the way we hold the thing.
The way we do the thing.
Those of us who have forgotten amuletic traditions,
we turn to hoarding hand sanitizer and masks.
we find someone to blame.
we think that will help.
Want to blame something?
Blame capitalism. Blame patriarchy. Blame white supremacy.
It is already time to remember to hang garlic on our doors
to dip our handkerchiefs in thyme tea
to rub salt on our feet
to pray the rosary, kiss the mezuzah, cleanse with an egg.
In the middle of the night,
when you wake up with terror in your belly,
it is time to think about stardust and geological time
redwoods and dance parties and mushrooms remediating toxic soil.
it is time
to care for one another
to pray over water
to wash away fear
every time we wash our hands
Let us center down into the quiet of this moment.
Let us listen to what it is that that has been tugging at us,
Maybe all morning, maybe for our whole lives.
Whatever it is rising up within us—be it a question,
A fear, or maybe some tender hope—in this moment,
Let us welcome it with respect and curiosity,
As a signal from a part of us which wants us to know something,
Which knows we are ready to receive what it says.
As we listen to that still, small voice within,
Let us trust that, in each moment,
We are also being called out into the world,
And into new pathways,
That have been, all along, waiting for us to say “Yes.”
Blessed be. And amen.
Half of all undesignated funds mailed in from this Sunday will be donated to Visions and Pathways. Through its various programs for youth ages 13 to 21-plus, Visions and Pathways provides abused, neglected, and homeless youth with housing, a stable environment, and supportive services that guide them in becoming contributing members of society. Visions and Pathways helps hundreds of young people each year to move beyond their troubled past and build a brighter future. For more information, please visit https://visionsandpathways.org.
Please mail your contribution to:
123 East Cliff Street
Somerville, NJ 08876
Please note “Sunday Offering” in the memo line. Thank you for your generosity.