April 14, 2020

 

I look out my window today, and I see grey sky, but I know that it is warming up out there, finally. I also see people walking by, kids on roller skates and bicycles. I think the Easter Bunny – declared an essential service this year – brought a few outdoor toys, like those skates and bicycles. I assure you all were keeping safe social distance as they passed by.

Easter was different this year. The day passed quietly. Slowly even. Normally, it is filled with 2 worship services, followed by rushing in to Calgary for dinner with the extended family. This year, Corona Virus changed that. So did missing mom. As a pastor, I tell people how all those “first events” following the loss of a loved one are hard. As a daughter, now I know that to be true, even more so than ever before.

Normally, sometime in the week prior to Easter, mom would have gathered with the great grand daughters to participate in egg decorating. And participate she would, she wasn’t one to just watch on the sidelines when it came to anything creative like that.

Last year, my family gathered with her and dad and shared a beautiful meal at the seniors’ residence where they were living. Dad is still there. No beautiful dinner with family there this year. The residents are all eating in there rooms, alone.

Dad still misses mom deeply, and these extended periods of being alone have been so hard on him. Sure, there are people checking in every hour; and meals being brought to him. But for the most part, he is alone. Not something he’s good at. Amd with his dementia, understanding of why we can’t visit is limited, at best.

Our daughter also spent the holiday alone, as did my sister. However, they have technical skills, and we spent an hour with our daughter on “FaceTime” before dinner, and as much time with my sister after dinner. It was good to see their faces, safely located in their homes. Not the same. But good.

My other siblings are safely in their own spaces, too. None of them alone – each with at least one family member, like us. However each missing at least one person who normally would have been at their holiday dinner table, too.

I find in these days, when one would think you could get all kinds of things done, that my progress is slow. I am reminded by a colleague that we – our whole society – is in a collective state of grief. We all can name things that is time of social isolation has caused us to loose. Some of those things may be returned to us, some may not. Even if they are, we are at a loss to know when that may be.

I know that what helps me in times of loss is connection with other people. And so I reach out – figuratively speaking. I am staying as connected as I can with ZOOM group meetings, and FaceTime calls, and even good old, simple telephone calls. I am seeking moments of joy in those connections, and looking for the resurrection stories in all that is happening in our world.

I am finding those stories in the smiles (at a distance) of those I encounter when I must go out for groceries, etc. I found resurrection yesterday, in the sound of the geese flying overhead, coming back from points south, to nest and bring new life to our world.

I am finding those stories as I listen to music performances on line, recorded in living rooms, on cathedral steps, or shared on social media platforms. Music, they say it soothes the soul, and these days that is so true. I am finding moments of the presence of the Spirit in those ZOOM meetings, and in listening to friends and colleagues, as I learn from them how we can walk together through these days.

All those stories, the music, the smiles, the geese, remind me that we are not alone, that the Spirit is indeed with us in these days. Thanks be.

Blessings of the Easter season, dear readers.

Tammy

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March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020

Another Sunday has passed without being in worship leadership. An odd time in the lives of ministry personnel. Yesterday, I spent my worship time watching and listening to the Moderator of the United Church of Canada’s worship leadership. It was fulfilling time. I also appreciated the musicians…although it appeared that they were playing in some sort of storage room…it looked kind of ‘utility like’. Perhaps the best place for recording? We’re all doing things differently in these days. 

While listening, to help me focus, I sat at my home desk, where we have a large puzzle. I don’t work much at that desk, as I prefer the naturally lit setting of the dining room table. The work desk is in the lower level of our home, and great when you need quiet, but not as nice a setting. The thing is, though, I must of needed quiet, because after listening to Richard’s worship service, I continued to work on the puzzle for at least an hour. 

We live in a relatively small bungalow. There are 3 adults living here – my spouse, our son, and me. Our daughter, the only introvert in the family, has stayed in her Edmonton condo. She is immune-compromised, so she feels safer there…and as an introvert, more content in her own space. 

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Home, sweet home…as we socially distance ourselves.

Not that she doesn’t like being home – but she wisely recognizes that all 4 of us, in our small bungalow would mean she’d spend a lot of time in that lower level of the house to meet her own need for private quiet time. The three of us extroverts are just a little too much on an extended basis, especially during this time where none of us are going far! 

That said, we usually see our daughter at least once a month, and I have a feeling this could be a really long stretch. I miss her already, and we could have weeks to go. 

Family has become an important life line in this time. I’ve spoken to our daughter and my siblings more in the last few weeks than I have since my mom’s death. Some of that is because we have all been checking in to share another new reality – helping my dad cope with social distancing and the fact that none of us can see him. Living with in a senior’s residence, and with dementia has made that a really hard thing to understand for him. There is a couple who have worked for us offering my dad companionship in the evenings and when we have been away, since mom died. These wonderful people are continuing to care for dad by delivering treats to the residence for him. Not only does it save me the 90 minute drive in and then back, it gives my dad a sense that there are people ‘on the outside’ who care. This couple has been a God-send to our family. We are so grateful for their care.

I know that many families are struggling in these times of staying home in order to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ and hold Corona Virus or COVID 19 in check. Many of us are not home bodies, and this isolation is hard on us. Yet, my daughter’s story continues to be a reminder that we are doing this for others as much as for ourselves. 

Others are coping with the realities of work shortages, or lay offs, and the economics of that. Some, who live with domestic violence may be living in greater risk and fear than many of us can imagine. 

And then there are those who are part of that list of “essential service” providers. I am grateful for those who serve in health care, as frontline professionals, as well as in political leadership, helping communicate, and making decisions around supporting our countries citizens through this strange new time. 

I am grateful for people we all have taken for granted – restaurant operators and staff, retail staff, grocery staff, transportation workers – truck, train, airline and buses…getting people and goods where they need to go…with some risk. 

We can all think of those who are still doing their day to day work – often at risk, while so many of us complain about staying home. 

This is a strange new world…and we must each do our part to do that work of ‘flattening the curve.’ If not for ourselves, than for those with whom we encounter who may be more at risk – elders, immune compromised, those who must work in places where they face risk of contracting the virus. 

Stay safe and well, stay home. Blessed be. 

Tammy

March 21, 2020 Greetings in these strange times…

I am sitting at my computer, listening to CKUA radio play great music, and offering words of inspiration for these days. Music heals the soul. In these days of isolation and uncertainty, music is a gift. Sing along, play along, immerse yourself in music!  

Normally, on any given Saturday I am working on a sermon. Not today. Today, I feel a little lost. My role as minister, pastor, preacher, looks a lot different than it did a week ago. 

I serve congregations whose populations are on the older side of the age range. Many of my United Church colleagues are promoting and encouraging their folks to connect via live-streamed worship and conversation times. I, this week, created and posted a worship resource for our websites…with invitation to make it interactive by sharing it with those at home, or by picking up the telephone and sharing it with a friend or family member. The other thing I did was phone many of our elders who are not connected by internet/email, to let them know that although we will not be gathering for worship, the church is still present for them. The blessing in those conversations was that I received as much care from those wonderful folks as I gave. 

I do offer that worship resource I created to you, dear blog reader – it can be found on either Olds or Sundre United Church’s websites: www.oldsunited.ca or www.sundreunited.ca

Also on those sites, there is information from our wider church, that I will share as appropriate, with thanks to our web manager, Kathleen at Windsor Graphics. I may even get inspired to create a Facebook site, as I know there are those in my communities that may not log onto a web-based worship experience that might connect with their phones…and Facebook offers a little more interaction. 

It is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day that life will be different than ‘normal’ for a long time. I pray that as you live into the ‘different’ you will find places to nurture your spirit, and your body. Go for a walk, enjoy spring (even though my part of the world is still covered in snow, I plan to walk more). 

Listen to good music, watch interesting documentaries…make this an opportunity for learning! 

Whatever you do in these days, be conscious of those who are immune-compromised or elderly, those for whom COVID 19 poses the highest risk. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay focused on the reality that we will get through this most effectively if we strive to live as community. 

Reach out as you need to, and as you are able…keeping that safe distance. I find this is one of the hardest things, not reaching out to hug, shake a hand, hold one another in love. Our smiles, our words, our prayers are so important in this time, as we hold each other in love in safe ways.

Remember too, that we are not alone. We are surrounded by the love of the creator. 

Keep in touch…figuratively… and be well, my friends. 

Until next time,

Tammy