Shelter In Place

So many times I have said to Tripp, “I wish we could just stay home today!” And so many times our little dog, Violet, has looked at us with sad eyes, the ones that said, “Please don’t go to work!”

Well . . . all of those wishes have come true! Yesterday we received a government directive, that along with all the counties of the San Francisco Bay, we are under a “Shelter In Place” order for the next three weeks. Of course, this is an effort aimed at combatting the spread of COVID-19. We are to remain in our homes and venture out only for necessities like groceries, medications, or doctor visits.

The initial shock took us to the fridge and the cupboards. Do we have enough? Can we get more? What is the best way of procuring what we need without putting ourselves at too much risk?

Having settled those questions, and having rethought the way we handle the basic necessities of life, my thoughts then moved to the Community Congregational Church, the place where I serve as pastor. What does this mean for us as a gathered community?

As a “seasoned” minister I have a pretty good grasp of what my vocation requires of me. Until now this has always involved physical presence and proximity, but suddenly (or not so suddenly) we are confronted with how to live and work as a community and not be in the same room.

“Social Distancing” is our new spiritual practice. It could easily become an experience of marking time, but that feels a little too much like incarceration to me. I’d rather view it as a gift of space and time, given for the purpose of noticing ourselves, knowing ourselves, making peace with ourselves, and loving ourselves.

This self-nurture can become the cultivated ground out of which will grow a greater love of neighbor, a love that will blossom and bear fruit and ultimately change the world. And we all know that what the world needs now is love, sweet love.

Social distance can also be seen as a season of gestation out of which will be born something we are just beginning to imagine. We are well versed in the collapse of the western religious empire. What is newer to us is the recognition of what is trying to be born in its place.

This is what we call a pregnant moment in human history. It is a pregnancy that is nearing full term. The delivery is exciting and scary, and it’s what we’ve been looking for all along.

So . . . how about a deep, collective cleansing breath?

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