Pastoral Letters

COVID 19: Pastoral Letter (part 1)

Hello Beloved,

I pray that his finds you well in mind, body, and soul.

We are existing within an unprecedented, chaotic, and challenging time as the COVID 19 pandemic impacts our lives, communities, nations, and the entire world.

  • Concerts, Sporting Events, and Social Gathering are postponed.
  • Educational institutions, pre-schools to universities, are closed.
  • Companies are requiring employees to work from the comfort of their homes.
  • Companies are laying off employees and closing their doors.
  • Restaurants are limited to carry-out and delivery business only.
  • Churches are embracing digital worship until further notice.
  • Multiple states have issued ‘Shelter In Place’ or ‘Stay At Home’ Orders.

It seems that our communities, nations, and the entire world is closed with the exception of essential services, such as: Medical, First Responders, Grocery, Utilities, and Financial Institutions.

Admittedly, I questioned the drastic precautions feared when COVID 19 reached American soil. It was rooted not in rebellion or a sense of being invincible, but rather in a lack of knowledge and understanding. For my limited knowledge was:

  • COVID 19 is a new strain of coronavirus, which is a known virus family.
  • 80% of those infected will have mild to moderate, flu like, symptoms.
  • Wash hands often, clean commonly touched surfaces, practice social distancing, and stay home if ill.
    These are basic, especially cold and flu season, precautions.

However, my limited knowledge and understanding was expanded through the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), scientists, and medical professionals. Their sharing of information has taught me:

  • an infected person can infect another despite being asymptomatic;
  • COVID 19 is highly contagious, again despite the carrier having no symptoms;
  • COVID 19 is up-wards of 4x more deadly than the ‘common’ flu, especially
    for persons with health concerns or compromised immune systems; and
  • Our hospitals are NOT prepared, beds and equipment, for projected numbers.

Thus, it is of the upmost importance that we listen to the scientists and medical professionals, who are working tirelessly while at risk to self. Their recommendation is limit the exposure, flatten the curve, and stop the spread by:

  • self-isolation at home;
  • if you cannot self-isolate, practice social distancing at a minimum of 6 feet;
  • clean and sanitize commonly touched surfaces;
  • wash and sanitize (min. 60% alcohol) hands regularly; and
  • avoid touching the face.

Medical professionals encourage us to consider ourselves infected and
adhere to their recommendations to avoid infecting another,
who may be vulnerable. 

Holistic Health
Although the COVID 19 infects our physical bodies, the pandemic has and will continue to impact our entire wellbeing, including: emotional/mental, social/inter-personal, financial, and spiritual. Thus, it will be of particular importance that we remain mindful of our own wellbeing in mind, body, and soul during this chaotic time. 

Our emotional and mental wellbeing will be impacted for better or worse, due to the social isolation and distancing. 

  • Extroverts:
    The social butterflies will struggle.
    Although criticized for their heartbrokenness at postponed and cancelled social gatherings, the energy of such fuels their own energy and emotional/mental wellbeing. Thus, extroverts will struggle with the sense of isolation, lack of energy or motivation, as well as simple boredom. Therefore, it will be essential for the extroverts to remain connected through digital resources to their family, loved ones, and friends. Additionally, extroverts may benefit from participating in Facebook LIVE events such as ‘concerts’ and ‘performances’.
  • Introverts:
    The homebodies, may not struggle but rather be rested and restored in isolation.
  • Ambiverts:
    Those who embody extrovert and introvert tendencies may experience rest and restoration, while being heartbroken at postponed and cancelled social gatherings. If it is not monitored, it can evolve into a sense of isolation, lack of energy or motivation, and simple boredom. Therefore, it will be essential to allow time for rest but also to remain connected to family, loved ones, and friends through digital resources.
  • Busy-Bodies: 
    Extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts may also be busy-bodies.
    Busy-bodies will struggle with their limited calendars, but perhaps it can be an opportunity to check off tasks on the ‘Things to Do’ list, to rest through hobbies (especially those contributing to COVID 19 needs, such as sewing),
    or to learn a new hobby.

Whether you are extroverted, introverted, ambivert and/or a busy-body, it will be essential to utilize this time in an emotionally and mentally healthy manner.

Unfortunately, those with essential positions will be lacking in their time for resting and recharging due to the increased demands, but may they find said time now and after the isolation has ended. 

Our social isolation and distancing directly impacts our social wellbeing, because it prevents our physical interactions and social gatherings. Fortunately, we do exist within a time and place with an abundancy of communication options until we are able to gather together again.

It is not the same, but remain connected. In fact, connect more often and more deeply. I encourage you to utilize mail and email, phone conversations, social media, and video communication (ex. FaceTime, Skype, Zoom).

Unfortunately, the necessary social distancing and isolation further complicates the ability of family, loved ones, and friends to be present with those nearing death in health care facilities. These facilities are closed, except to clergy in immediate end-of-life pastoral care only. This lack of accompanying is a challenge for the dying and their loved ones.

Due to the essential closing of our communities, nations, and entire world, I cannot deny that it has and will continue to negatively impact all people financially. 

Our financial wellbeing is often not within our own control, due to contributing factors such as the loss of employment and income. Unfortunately, we have and will continue to bear witness and/or experience wide-spread unemployment and loss income/profits. Therefore, as we continue forward I encourage persons to be in the necessary conversations with financial institutions, landlords, charities, organizations, and loved ones regarding your financial situation and wellbeing. It was, in part, the community honestly helping, serving, and loving one another that enabled the American people to survive the Great Depression. May we learn from our historical past.

Additionally, our spiritual health and wellbeing will be impacted during our social isolation and distancing because it is deeply inter-connected to our physical, emotional/mental, social/inter-personal, and financial wellbeing.

Our spiritual wellbeing may be further challenged due to cancelled worship and fellowships opportunities in accordance with the social isolation/distancing recommendations and ‘Shelter In Place”/”Stay At Home” orders issued by national and local governments. However, a number of congregations continue to gather as able through digital options, including Facebook LIVE and zoom, for worship and fellowship.

Yet, our spiritual wellbeing can be fed outside the walls of the church and without digital communication through spiritual practices. It is important to note that differing spiritual tools and practices may or may not be fulfilling to individuals.

  • Prayer & Meditation
    You can enhance the experience with prayer beads, music, religious art, labyrinths, or otherwise.
  • Devotions
    You can read Scripture or other resources with an emphasis on spending time in reflection.

The COVID 19 Pandemic, including the social isolation and distancing, will continue to be an unprecedent, chaotic, and challenging time in the days, weeks, and potentially months ahead. During this uncharted time, may we remain mindful of our wellbeing in mind, body, and soul.

May we embrace this as an opportunity to rest, restore, and recharge.

May we embrace the opportunity to connect more often and deeply
with family, loved ones, and friends.

May we give thanks and pray for
all essential persons continuing to operate our world:
Medical Professionals,
First Responders,
and Financial Institutions.
May you all find time to rest, restore, and recharge.

Until we meet again, may God bless you and keep you in the palm of his hand. Amen.

With love, Pr. Melinda.

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