1300 Evans St. | Morehead City, NC 28557 | 252-240-2283 | ucfminister@ucfnc.org

Reflections from Rev. Sally

April 3, 2020

If you would like to see a video of Rev. Sally delivering this reflection, click HERE.

Today is Friday, April 3, 2020.  This is the 19th day of our shutdown at the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, in response to Corona Virus.  I hope that you and yours are well.

On Sunday March 15, we held a small worship service in our sanctuary.  When the service ended, we wiped down the pews and the pulpit and the door handles, turned off the lights, and locked the doors.  Since then, the building sits empty and silent most of the time.  Once or twice a week, someone checks the mail, checks that all is well in the building.  Once or twice a week, I go in and check my email, and water the plants.

I am learning to work from home.  It is an honor and a privilege to have such good work – ministry with this good congregation that we can do together – on the phone, on my computer, by email, in an online meeting.

I am learning that working from home is NOT EASY.

For the first week, I started right in the minute I booted up my computer in the morning, and I kept at it until I powered the computer down at night.  Every email added another “to-do” to my list.  Because we weren’t gathering – for meetings, for classes, for services – there were no casual conversations that happened in passing.  I am learning to be intentional about communicating: make a phone call, send an email.  Our website team designed new web pages; I am learning to write these reflections and record these videos for Barb and Hilary to post on those new pages.  I opened a Zoom account for the congregation, and many of us are getting pretty good at videoconference meetings.  All these things are new ways of doing familiar things.  What a learning curve!  By the end of the day, my brain was overloaded.  I was exhausted!

Now, I am learning I have to pace myself.

Not everything has to be done right now, or even today.  We’re going to be living this way for at least another month, if we are careful (longer, if we are not).  There will be other days, if we are lucky.  At 5pm, I turn off my email.  What comes in after that, I will read after dinner.  Or in the morning.  What doesn’t get done today goes on tomorrow’s to-do list.  This way, I make time to rest and recharge my brain.  This way, I am able to be present to you when you call, or text.  This way, I can be here if you need me.

Staying safe and staying well mean balancing good work with time for not-working: time for relaxation; for exercise; for healthy meals; for rest, and sleep; time for laughter and – sometimes – time for tears.  Good work is grounding and steadying – when it is part of the rhythm of a life that is grounded in what you value most.

Some of you know this already.  Some of you have worked from home for a while – or for years.  Some of you have retired from jobs and have learned to live a new rhythm that is centered on home.  Some of you are suddenly working from home, or suddenly not working at all for the time being, and you are learning this with me.

May this time of corona virus be, for us all, a time of learning to pace ourselves.  The rhythm of our lives, the rhythm that keeps us safe and well, is ours to keep.

May you be safe, and may you be well.

Sally

March 31, 2020

If you would like to see a video of Rev. Sally delivering this Reflection, Click HERE

Today is Tuesday, March 31, 2020.  This is the 16th day of our shutdown at the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, in response to Corona Virus.  I hope that you and yours are well.

In recent days, I’ve been calling to check in with church members and friends, with old friends and relatives far and near.  In our conversations, I’ve noticed that many people are spending time working in their gardens.  It’s a good way to get outside when you can’t leave home.  And the recent run of warm, sunny, breezy days we’ve had here makes it hard to resist going out for a few minutes – or a few hours.

It may be that everybody I’ve talked with always plants a garden, and this is certainly the time to give your garden some attention.  Maybe I’ve just never asked before, or maybe I haven’t listened.  But I’ve heard so many gardening stories that I turned to the Internet – handy source of all wisdom – to see whether more people are gardening in these days of enforced staying-at-home.

And there it was, in the New York Times.  “Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds” wrote Kendra Pierre-Louis in the Style section on Saturday. [https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/style/seed-panic-buying-coronavirus.html?algo=top_conversion&fellback=false&imp_id=703695771&imp_id=833226714&action=click&module=trending&pgtype=Article&region=Footer].  Her piece, subtitled “I’m clearly not the only one who is desperate to garden,” describes her recent decision to start a garden. She wrote, “I knew firsthand how calming gardening can be, especially when you’re not dependent on the food for your immediate survival. Time slows down a little, thoughts meander, and a feeling of flow can arrive, even when the land you’re cultivating is a tiny patch in earshot of a bus stop.”  But, it turns out seeds are not so easy to find these days. She quoted Mike Dunton, the founder of The Victory Seed Company, a small seed company focused on horticultural biodiversity, who emailed her because he was too busy filling orders to come to the phone: “It feels like we are selling toilet paper.”

And then I found another article, also in Saturday’s Style section.  “America Stress-Bought All the Baby Chickens,” wrote Tove Danovich [https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/style/chicken-eggs-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=moreIn&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&action=click&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&contentCollection=At%20Home].  Turns out, you can’t get baby chicks, either.  Lines form outside Tractor Supply Company stores on the morning of a chick delivery.  One hatchery in Iowa is almost completely out of chicks for the next four weeks.  “People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper,” said Tom Watkins, the vice president of the hatchery.

History tells us that there’s a run on chicks and on seeds in times of crisis or anxiety: wars, stock market downturns, presidential election years – and, apparently, pandemics.  On one hand, a backyard garden or a backyard flock of laying hens feels like some insurance when the food supply – or the supply chain – seems uncertain.  And, too, these can be home-grown science projects for students suddenly learning at home – and for their parents.

But I think seeds and baby chicks also call to us on another, deeper level.  Germinating seedlings, forming flowers, developing fruits, cheeping babies growing larger by the day – these are affirmations of life and of hope in a time when the threat of disease and the specter of death lurk at the edges of every day.  Tending the garden, caring for the chicks – these speak to a need in us to nurture life; to be needed.  They get us up out of bed in the morning.  They make each new day a time of discovery.  And weaving living, growing things into our lives reminds us that we, ourselves, are inextricably woven into that interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  In hard times and in good times.  In sickness and in health.

May you be well.

Sally

April 1, 2020

Just before Corona Virus turned our lives inside-out and our world upside-down, this congregation was beginning to imagine how we might grow our vision and grow into our vision as “a visible presence in the community, growing a just world through spiritual  enrichment, compassionate action, and free religious inquiry.”

In a sermon on February 23, I invited members and friends to “dream with me.  Dream big with me.”

Now, whether we like it or not, our lives are being simplified.  In this time of Corona Virus, we cannot go everywhere, cannot do everything.    We are re-learning that, when the sky is not the limit, when we cannot have  everything, then  focusing on the important things IS everything.

Corona Virus is teaching us to focus on the important things – in our daily lives, in our planning, and in our dreaming.  For a time,  Corona Virus is slowing us down, making us think, giving us the gift of time, of perspective, of setting  priorities.

And when the crisis passes – as it will – and when the restrictions lift – as they will – then our dreams will be all the more powerful.  Because they will be focused on the important things.  And that is everything.

Blessings on you in this time of Corona Virus.

Sally

March 29, 2020

If you would like to see a video of Rev. Sally delivering this Reflection, Click HERE

Today is Sunday, March 29, 2020.  This is the 14th day of our shutdown at the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, in response to Corona Virus.  I hope that you and yours are well.

Have you seen the teddy bears in the windows?

On my walk yesterday, I noticed one in the window of a neighbor.  This morning, I took a bike ride – and noticed several teddy bears.  Turns out, teddy bears in the window is a thing.

I found an article in Time Magazine online.  Megan McCluskey wrote, “With families around the world abiding by social distancing guidelines recommended by health experts and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials to curb the further spread of coronavirus, neighborhood ‘bear hunts’ are becoming all the rage in some areas.” [https://time.com/5809613/bear-hunts-coronavirus/].  The article includes pictures and videos from Tennessee, South Carolina, and London.

Even when we are social distancing, it’s still ok to go outside for a walk, or a bike ride, or a car ride.  So families with children (and ministers who live alone) set out on bear hunts, or safaris (because you may see other animals, and you may find them in windows, on porches, in yards, or …anywhere!)  Apparently, some people take binoculars; and note pads and pencils, to write down or tally all the bears they see.  It can be a counting game for a child, or a way to connect with neighbors – even those you don’t know.  In some neighborhoods, bear hunts are leading to other community social-distancing events: drawing bear paws on the sidewalks in front of homes where bears have been sighted.  Writing inspiring messages or drawing pictures on your sidewalk (this makes me think about Bert in the Mary Poppins movie – and wish I could draw!).  One neighborhood in Tennessee is organizing a senior walk for the high school seniors – when neighbors can come outside and cheer for them – and a visit from a local food truck – to support local restaurants so they stay in business.

We are all in this together.  And, to quote one bear-hunt organizer, ““Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we have to socially isolate.  We’re trying to come together as a community but still be six feet apart.”  I’ve got a teddy bear.  I’m going to put him in my front window.

We’re all in this together.  Who knew we could make that fun?!

Go in peace, return in love.

Blessed be.

March 27, 2020

My colleague the Rev. Lynn Ungar characterizes herself as “a minister, a dog trainer, a poet, a contra dancer, and a singer.”  She is the minister for lifespan learning at the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist (https://www.questformeaning.org/clfuu/; https://www.questformeaning.org/spiritual-themes/resources-for-living-december-2012-2/).

On March 16, the UU World magazine online published Lynn’s poem Pandemic (https://www.uuworld.org/articles/poem-pandemic).  With her permission, I offer this poem to you today.  May this poem – may the small, still space that it creates – be blessings on you, this day.

Sally

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

March 26,2020

If you would like to see a video of Rev. Sally delivering this Reflection, Click HERE

Corona Virus is everywhere!

I’m not just talking about the danger of catching the virus – though that danger is real, and being careful can be a matter of life and death, and that absolutely means moving through the world as though the virus itself is everywhere.  And so we maintain social distance, we “stay safe, stay at home,” we wash our hands, we disinfect, we monitor ourselves for fever, cough, shortness of breath [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html].

But it goes far beyond these physical manifestations.  Every time I look at a newspaper, turn on the radio, turn on the television – Corona Virus is the lead story.  We are inundated with information, opinion, and speculation.

We need information to stay safe in this time of Corona Virus.

And we need inspiration to stay healthy.  Our spirits need to be able to breathe deeply of beauty, silence, possibility.

I used to be an early-morning walker.  These days, I am getting back to that – getting outside in the growing light.  Listening to birds.  Taking in the sight and breathing in the scent of azaleas, wisteria, jasmine.

Where are you finding inspiration in these days of self-isolation?  Are you reading?  Watching movies?  Listening to music – or making music?  Are you meditating, journaling, doing puzzles, making art?  Are you reaching out to hear the voices of friends or loved ones?  Are you working outside, walking outside, bird-watching through the window?  Is there a pet who feeds your spirit?

I invite you to share with our UCF community what keeps you going.  Post to the email Round Robin – tell us what inspires you – and keeps you healthy.

And I urge you to take time and make space for inspiration in your days and in your life.

March 25, 2020

If you would like to see a video of Rev. Sally delivering this Reflection, Click HERE

I got a phone call from a friend this morning.

“Sorry to bother you,” the caller began.  “I was going to send you an email, but…”

“Oh, no – please don’t apologize,” I hastened to say.  “I am so glad to hear your voice!”

Voices matter.

Emails are good for transmitting information.  But in this time when I am – when so many of us are – self-isolating to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is so good to hear the voice of a friend, or a loved one.  An email speaks to our heads.  A familiar voice speaks to our heart.

So, this day, I am going to call two people on the phone.  I want to hear how they are doing, and what they are doing in these strange days when all our familiar routines are changing.  I hope we will find something to laugh about.  If there is fear, or sadness, or frustration, I hope we can cry together.  I hope this connection will speak to their hearts, as I know it will speak to mine.

And tomorrow, I will call two more people.

Maybe you will do the same.

We are all in this together.  There is power, and strength, and health, and healing in connection.  When we can’t BE together, we can be intentional about speaking together.

Blessings on you in this time of Corona Virus.

Sally

 

March 23, 2020

Brother Richard Hendrick is a Capuchin Franciscan priest-friar, living and working in Ireland (mostly).
Currently, he is the Guardian of Ards Friary in Donegal which includes a large residential retreat centre.
(More at www.ardsfriary.ie ) He also teaches Christian meditation and mindfulness and work with the
Sanctuary Spirituality Centre in inner city Dublin www.sanctuary.ie . You can visit his blog at
http://brorichardblog.blogspot.com/
On March 13, 2020, Brother Richard wrote this poem. Google tells me it has since gone viral – a
message of hope in the midst of the fear and confusion of this corona virus pandemic. Nan Reed sent
the link to me, and we used the poem as the benediction in the worship service we held at UCF on
Sunday, March 15. We followed it by singing “Spirit of Life.” I offer it to you, today.

Lockdown
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

Ministry in the Time of Corona Virus
Reflections from Rev. Sally
March 23, 2020
2
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.
From FaceBook; Brother Richard Hendrick March 13th 2020
Brother Richard’s Facebook post is at:

LockdownYes there is fear.Yes there is isolation.Yes there is panic buying.Yes there is sickness.Yes there is even…

Posted by Richard Hendrick on Friday, March 13, 2020

For context: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/world/europe/italians-find-a-moment-of-joy-in-
this-moment-of-anxiety.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

Blessings on you in this time of Corona Virus.
Sally

 

Archived Reflections from 2020 

January 2020 Reflections from Sally

February 2020 Reflections from Sally

March 1 2020 Reflections from Sally