Midweek Faith Lift
April 1, 2020
Alone Together; Holding the Light
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” That is the first line in A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. That line and that story came to mind as I sat in my study to contemplate what to say for our time together today. And just like in that novel, we are seeing the best of people in what feels like the worst of times. Now, I will admit there are some bad actors, and I too have stumbled trying to find the way forward. I kept trying to figure out how to hold onto keeping things as “normal” as possible when it was increasingly impossible to do that. The first Sunday we did the unplanned live stream, we had 153 views! WOW! Maybe this was a new way to embrace doing church and we can spread the Unity message to even more people! Wow!
There were 13 people at church that day, so it felt like real “church.” Let me be the first to admit that I got caught up in an ego trip on that one, which invariably trips you up, as it did me! I had attachments, lots of them! I wanted to hold onto church as I knew and loved it with as many of you in the pews as possible. I had attachment to seeing your faces and to hugging you during the greeting time. Speaking to an empty space and a camera just is not the same and not at all satisfying.
And then I was mad, really mad, because this is NOT what I signed up for when I got into the ministry gig! And honestly, to quote Greg Tamblyn’s song, I do have an analog brain in a digital world, so to figure this all out was overwhelming, caused a lot of hot flashes for me, and some sleepless nights. Sigh! I just didn’t want to do church this way, not even once, not even a little bit. And yet, here I am! HA!
And then, and then I started comparing what I was doing to other, bigger churches who had tech teams and multiple cameras….now that really was a road to hell, paved with good intentions, as they say, but a road to hell, nonetheless. It just wasn’t going to happen like that, so let it go Deb! Much easier said than done. My husband has worked with a business coach, Joan Sotkin, who describes what happens when you try to adjust to a new reality, which just upends your world. She calls it the “Moving Stupids.” You realize you have a severe case of the “Moving Stupids” when you find the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. That is where I have been and where we collectively are right now, a serious case of the “Moving Stupids.”
Last Sunday when we were all getting in each other’s space trying to make this work, and the power point words were all backwards on the slides, and the live stream feed kept stopping to buffer and I kept losing my place and train of thought because I was focused more on my I Pad than the talk…..well! It was more an ordeal than fun!
When Elza and Arielle became members and I couldn’t even hug them, I really wanted to just sit down and cry. For extroverts like me, and the huggers out there, it has felt like a time in the desert! Dry and hot and uncomfortable! And then the “piece de resistance” came when I HAD to cough and I was holding the offering bag, coughed into my hand rather than my sleeve and then grabbed the handle of the offering bag…..well it was all live on tape as they say! How many violations of the “being safe during the pandemic” could we cram onto one video????
Friends, I thought I could walk and chew gum at the same time, but not so much! It has been a very humbling journey with tears, frustration, irritation, confusion, uncertainty and self-doubt. I share all this because I believe that we are all going through these complex emotions all together at the same time.
And it is causing us all to stumble a bit and feel confused and lost, angry, alone and afraid. We are collectively disoriented and fearful and it is not much fun, but that is where we are.
I was lamenting that I had carefully prepared talk outlines and mapped out music for The 16 Stations of the Cosmic Christ, thinking of fun images and videos to take us through the summer. I was so excited about this new series and so overwhelmed in thinking how to salvage all of it! Then I watched a video of a professor who posted a version of the song “I Will Survive” as his syllabus was in shreds on the floor. He had never taught an online class and was overwhelmed by trying to figure it out. I could so relate, but I didn’t even know it yet! I was reading postings of other Unity ministers who seemed to have it all figured out and had it together….more of the road to Hell, right?
What I did not realize which is so often the case is that I was going to get to live the 16 Stations of the Cosmic Christ, not just talk about them. Well, that is reality, for sure. I was living my crucifixion experience, my time in the darkness and confusion about how to do this and feeling so incompetent and overwhelmed. When will there be any light? To be honest, I really could not meditate because my minister monkey mind would not be quiet! And then the light came on! It came from one of you dear ones in a phone call when Barb McKelvey and I spoke on the phone and she said, “Deb you can’t expect to do this like always. We don’t expect that from you! Whatever you do for us we will really appreciate and be so grateful.” Her words landed in my heart and brought me back home to my higher, Christ self. And they made me cry!
And then the two of us prayed together and sat together in the Silence. What I know from this experience is how deeply I am connected to all of you and how very much you mean to me. And how much we mean to one another. What is so important right now is to hold in our hearts what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians:
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (NRSV)
In this time my heartfelt prayer is to be aware, to be honest, to be compassionate and to be present to what is here. And that is my prayer for each of you. Let us focus on what is worthy of praise and find that place of peace in the midst of all that is here.
It is a time of rending apart and a time of being alone together and holding the light in a whole new way as we allow Spirit to mend what has been so broken.
I offer you in closing a blessing I received during a phone call with the Contemplative Leaders group of which I am a part. It is by Jan Richardson
O my friend, take heart.
The work of repair is aching
in its slowness and beautiful
in the inches by which it will arrive.
Do not pray to be patient but to persist
Ask for the endurance
that helps us learn
to breathe in the midst of fear,
to love in the presence of sorrow
to dream within the rending
of the world that might be made.
Blessings and deep gratitude for all of you,