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Moving from Crisis to the New Normal

With coronavirus, most of us have been in crisis mode since the second week of March. We burned the candle at both ends, and relit another from its flame right before it sputtered out. We figured out how to do our jobs from home, help our kids do school from home, and how to take care of ourselves and each other as best we could.

I mean, it really is sort of amazing. I know our church was up and online in 7 days. People who had never ordered groceries swiftly learned how to do curbside or delivery. People who hated computers and wanted nothing to do with them took a deep breath, downloaded Zoom, and have been getting on regularly, cheering the spirits of their friends and family members. Bravo, us!

Now, we're facing the idea that this is probably going to go on for a while, and we're going to need to find sustainable ways to live in this way. We're experimenting with expanding our protective bubbles,  moving our furniture around, throwing out the sourdough starter if we do…
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Trust and Covid-19

When my best friend had twin toddlers, she decided that there was no way she and her partner could do this alone, they were going to need to have a baseline trust, rather than suspicion, of the people they would encounter each day.

We have to trust others. The question is, who are you going to trust? This may be the bottom line of the division that is between Americans today. Who do we decide to trust? Who do we not trust?

I trust scientists who show that they are following the appropriate research guidelines of today, e.g. peer-reviewed studies, double-blind tests, etc. I don't trust the currently government administration, but if I'm being truthful, I don't fully trust any administration on certain things. In times of crisis, part of their job is to not induce panic. So I don't always trust that I'm hearing the full story. But when verifiable facts, studies, witnesses are provided, I pay attention.

We are so terribly divided on this, aren't we? I will say, I …

Could You Send Her for the Ammunition?

Let me preface by saying I know that not all people are comfortable with military/war metaphors, so feel free to either find a metaphor that works for you, or skip this altogether.

My dad, however, was a Korean war veteran who went to military college (that's what Texas A&M was in those days), originally stationed in artillery before being changed at the last minute to be a teacher in the corps of engineers. So some battle metaphors worked for him in explaining the world around him.

His highest compliment about a person's character was an affirmative answer to "but could you send them for the ammunition?"

The metaphor is this: you are in battle, and it's not looking good. You've got a partner with you, and y'all are running out of ammunition. If you send this person back to get more ammunition, will they return? Or will they promise to return, but then run the opposite direction, sacrificing you in the process?

He and I would talk about this, in real-…

Responsibility For, Responsibility To

One of the chief values in being part of a community whether it be a church, a town, or a country, is a sense of responsibility as a member of that community.

But we are also individuals, not just cogs in a machine. We make our own decisions, determine for ourselves what we believe, and shape our own lives.

Like many things in life, there needs to be a dynamic tension between individuality and community. In our faith of Unitarian Universalism, this tension is seen by the "bookends" of our Seven Principles. The Seven Principles are a set of promises, a sacred "to-do list," that every UU congregation promises to the other UU congregations that they will work toward.

The First Principle is that we affirm and promote "The inherent worth and dignity of every person." The Seventh Principle is that we affirm and promote "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." To be a Unitarian Universalist community means to hold t…

A Time for Character

The graduating seniors of the College of Holy Cross had a surprise commencement speaker, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who urged them on: "I encourage you to stay strong and unflinching. The country and the world need your talent, your energy, your resolve, and your character."

It is a time for character. A time for every person to rise to the occasion, to bring their best selves forward.

I am a fan of the Character Counts! program, created by the Josephson Foundation for Ethics, which breaks down character into 6 pillars:


To be a person of character means that you have principles that guide the decisions you make about your life, even when it's inconvenient. Even when you don't want to. Even when it's hard. Even when it means sacrifice.

Around us are, sadly, many examples of people without character, people operating through selfishness, greed, and contempt for others.

But look around. There are many more o…

The Need for Collective Mourning

I am profoundly grateful to the New York Times for their Sunday, May 24 front page. Under a headline reading, "U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS," they listed the names of 1,000 of those individuals who have died of covid-19, with the age, where they lived, and a detail about them. Maestro of a steel-pan band. Rocket engineer. Taught her girls sheepshead and canasta. 

One of my clearest memories of 9-11 was watching on tv, the family members running from camera to camera, holding up pictures of their loved ones, pleading that someone look at the picture, and tell them the person was alive. I sobbed, over and over, and finally had to turn the tv off for a while. I remember, clearly, saying, "I just can't cry anymore."

It was right that we cried then, and right that we should cry now. This is a devastating loss of life. It is unnatural and inhuman to ignore the death toll, to not be affected. We should be weeping and burning candles. We should be pro…

How Are You Expressing Yourself?

How are you expressing yourself right now? How will you remember what this time was like, or share with others your memories?

I am a big fan of journaling in all its many forms. Blogging was, at a particularly difficult time in my life, a safe place. I kept a blog under a pseudonym, and for six years, it was where I could pour out all of my feelings without the need to be brave for those who knew me in real life. And though I wouldn't have thought it at the time, I'm glad I have all those thoughts and experiences written down where I can look back at them.

My grandparents and great-grandparents lived through so many things - the 1918 Pandemic, the Great Depression, WWII ... I would give anything to have even just a few notes they had written about what that was like. No need for poetry -- just the minutiae of everyday life. What did they eat? What were their biggest worries? What did they do for fun or distraction?

And you can just never tell what will happen once you begin e…