Keeping the Faith
September 3, 2020, 12:00 PM

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if the way I am “coping” during this period is any indication, I would not be surprised if you are stressed far more than you are ready or willing to admit. It has been emotionally and psychologically exhausting – the uncertainties about life, the unrest, the turmoil, the virus, our lives upended, jobs lost, the economy struggling, our church building closed, our friends at risk, ourselves at risk.  Public discourse has become corrosive.  It’s not that we as individuals, we in families, the church or the community or the country haven’t experienced hard times before; we have.  But this year really seems to be over the top in terms of multiple sources of stress and anxiety. 

 

What can we do?  I suggest spending time in the Psalms. I know, you thought I was going to say prayer.  Well, the psalms are prayers. Many of them come out of times of trouble and despair. Many of them ask God, “Where are you?” Many of them recite the promise of blessing, but the blessing seems to be missing. But every single one of them expresses hope as well: that God will hear, God will respond, and God will not abandon us for ever.  And as we move into prayer of our own, this is as good a model to follow as there is. 

 

My second suggestion is: do something for someone else. Call someone you know is isolated, or send a card, or make a donation (Episcopal Relief and Development is seeking funds for hurricane relief, covid relief, and fire relief, among their regular activities: https://www.episcopalrelief.org/ ). 

 

My third suggestion is: do something for yourself.  Have a cookie, take a walk, color or paint or write a poem or a diatribe (or a diatribe as a poem), sing a song, dance with the radio. Walk away from the news for a day.  Do some yoga.  Or just some focused breathing – you might even do that with the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  You might also learn a new skill – how to say a few words in Spanish, or join in a book group with some friends.  Or take up the 21-day Racial Equity Challenge outlined in the Epistle for September

 

Thank you for your faithful lives, your prayers and your financial and practical support – worship leaders, garden weeders, phone callers, prayer warriors, art supporters, ministry doers, justice seekers, and all who strive to love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love neighbor as self.  Being your priest is one of the best gifts I have ever received, and I thank God for you each and every day.