I miss you. I see many of you weekly, or even more frequently, in our Zoom Sunday Services and meetings throughout the week. I acknowledge that it’s not exactly the same to come together over internet and phone, but our principles call us to take care of each other in this way right now.
We’re going to need to stay at a distance for a while, it seems. Like many of you, I was relieved when Gov. Baker extended the state of emergency again and when he declared that students would not physically return to school this year. Staying apart is slowing down infections, which gives scientists and medical professionals time to work. It’s also a bummer not to be together, to cancel celebrations or reimagine them at a distance.
It’s taken me a while to come to terms with how long of a haul this seems to be. At first, it was hard to imagine longer than a month, and then a season, and I’m starting to understand that this will take as long as it takes. We’re likely to get incredibly frustrated if we’re not already there. So what I’m asking of you is to stay patient and keep it up.
Continue practicing excellent hand hygiene. (I can sing the song again if that helps.) Wear a mask when you must go into public, and only go out for essentials when necessary, not more than once a week. Get your exercise in places where you can keep a safe distance from those not in your household.
If we do this as well as we should, it will be tedious. Flattening the curve does draw it out longer. I know that this is hard for people who miss their friends and loved ones, people who have lost work, people who have had to reimagine how they do their work, people who are parenting, homeschooling, and working all at the same time, people who had been looking forward to events that have been canceled.
UUSA’s services will continue to be over Zoom through at least the end of our program year (end of June). We are in conversation around what the summer will look like, and we’ll follow the guidance of scientists for the safest ways to come back together, when it is safe to do so. It seems likely that large gatherings (by which I mean Sunday morning services, not just Red Sox games) will be the last sort of activity to return to our lives. I can’t say how long that will be.
What I can promise is that we will make these decisions in a way that honors the worth and dignity of all people, especially those at high risk, that we are connected to each other, and that we respect the leadership of scientists as we seek to live with integrity in this challenging time. We will not ask you to choose between your health and your participation in the community in rushing to open before it is safe to do so by the best guidance we have.
I also promise that we will continue to find meaningful ways to connect. We will have beautiful worship, joyful social hours, significant conversations, and grounding spiritual practices. We will learn new things, consider new ideas, and find new ways to make a difference in the world.
We will find new ways to do what is essential–to care for each other, to celebrate life together, to search for meaning together–because this is who we are. Circumstance, even a large circumstance like a global pandemic, will not prevent us from sharing the love we have for each other and for life itself, and it could never separate us from the larger Love that holds us all.
In faith, Rev. Rachael Hayes