a resource for this time of COVID-19 social distancing
By the Rev. Bruce W. Gray
If you were in central Indiana today, Friday June 26th, you got to experience a desert sandstorm. Unless you are an obsessive news follower like I am, you probably had no idea that at a very high altitude there was a massive sand storm that had blown all the way from Africa. It darkened skies in the Caribbean, but here we mostly experienced it as oddly dry air, moderate winds, and eye irritation from the tiny particles. Perhaps the only way to really see the sandstorm was at sunset (I admit, I was not awake to see the sunrise today, but maybe it was even sandier). From my backyard, the sky as the sun went down had a unique tan over tone, with everything looking like I was seeing the world through brown tinged sun glasses. It was fascinating, but after awhile my eyes became sore enough that I had to go inside.
One reason I was outdoors was the actual feel of the air. At first I could not place what was so striking about it, and then when I let my mind sort of relax rather than to run in over analysis mode, I realized what I was experiencing. I was back in time, over twenty years ago, when I lived for about seven years on the edge of the desert, west of Palm Springs, California. There the summer days were hot, but when the evening winds came up, though full of sand, they carried cool air from the ocean almost a hundred miles to the west. Then it would be time to play outside, with my kids, one of the many softball teams I was on, with friends throwing around a football in the quiet street we lived on. In other words, happy times. So this evening, as my eyes teared up and I started to cough, I had strong feelings of happiness and contentment as I again experienced good times from a third of a lifetime ago.
In the midst of these troubled times, it is important to pull on our savings accounts of happy memories, of times recent or long past, when we felt loved, purposeful, faith filled, or simply safe. Sometimes, when we revisit those times and places in our minds, we might see in new ways how God was present and loving us, or if we are lucky, we have always known and so remembering is like reading our personal holy scripture, in which we see God's subtle and might acts in the immediate world around us. These days are the perfect time for such memories, to help us hold to the faith that God never leaves us, and the holy hope that things will get better. The darker the night, the more important it is to pull to mind those times of light, those times of love, those times of God being close and evident.
By the Rev. Bruce Gray
In this time of pandemic, societal conflicts, and appropriately deep and difficult discussions around anti racism, it can be easy to think that life has gone off the rails in various ways. As someone who likes trains, I am reading a book by that title, “Off the Rails: A Train Trip Through Life" by Beppe Severgnini, an Italian travel writer. I thought it would be an entertaining (or should I say entertraining?) lightweight book to escape a bit from these challenging times.
Instead, it has surprised me with insights about life that are very applicable to today. It was hard to choose just one quote to share for the sake of brevity, but here is the winner...
"[Our lives] can derail because of a trifle. But it is our duty to fix the track and continue our journey, even if it’s a difficult one , even if we know it won’t go on forever. To discover you’re resilient is a source of relief, and relief is a sophisticated form of happiness."
We are in times that are testing our resilience in completely unexpected ways. I hope you are experiencing surprising amounts of resilience, and through that experience a sophisticated form of happiness. That is no small thing to have, and I am grateful to God when that gift is given.