We need each other. We have always known this. And now we know it in a new and different way, in a difficult way and in a powerful way, as we witness and experience pandemic. I have been so moved by all the ways you all have shown one another love and care in these first weeks of social distancing. You have donated to provide grocery cards for the local food pantries, you have donated to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund to help people from our congregation who need some help due to lost work or any other reason, and you have called and video-chatted with one another to say hi and offer support. And a myriad of other small and large acts of kindness that I cannot catalog here. We are suffering terrible losses, personal and communal, local and global. We need each other. And since the very nature of this pandemic asks us to keep away from each other, we are finding creative and vital ways to stay in touch and take care of each other while maintaining a safe physical distance. We are not in fact socially distant. We are physically distant, but we are socially close. We are emotionally close. We are spiritually close.
One of the features of all this video conferencing is that we get little glimpses into one another’s homes. I was recently on a video call for the local chapter of our UU Ministers’ Association, and I observed some of my colleagues’ beautiful altars and clean bookshelves with chalice paintings that are within the sightlines of their webcams. Well. Take a little peek in the background of the room I’m calling you from, and you may notice that it is a bit cluttered in here. I know this is not actually an impediment to serving as your minister, but it has led me to reflect on the need for sacred space in all our lives. The uncertainty and grief of pandemic make this need to stay grounded and connected even more acute. Since we do not have access to our Sanctuary right now, nor to the other places in our church building that we hold dear, where can we find sacred space in this time?
Some of us find sacred space out on a walk in the woods or some other favorite nature spot, or just out in the neighborhood. Some of us may have a place in our homes where we can find stillness and a sense of connection. A mantle with photos of ancestors, a window where the afternoon sun streams in. And just for the record: a cluttered space can certainly still be a sacred space. It’s all about what helps you get in touch with the truth that even in the midst of great pain, we can still find gratitude, connection, and hope. I encourage you to carve out a little space that can function as your personal sanctuary while our church building is closed.
Please continue to reach out and find ways to engage in virtual church, as we will continue to be closed for in-person gatherings but very much open for a variety of remote gatherings through the month of April, as of now, until May 4. We will keep sending regular emails with updates and information about our virtual church events.
Yours in faith,
Rev. Jolie Olivetti