Kindness - September 17
Dear people of St. Paul's
As we turn to the Fall, the hope that the pandemic would be a thing of the past, or at least a minor inconvenience, has sadly proven not to be the case. Our dreams of a lovely normal summer instead were marred by more COVID cases and deaths plus an increase in life threatening weather events caused by climate change. Experts continue to report on rising mental health issues. Often this emotional stress turns outward into anger and rage. I've seen an increase in lack of civility and anger at others. Perhaps you too have witnessed this or by your own actions have even contributed to this type of unkind behavior. Recently, there are moments in my own life when I've needed to pause, take a deep breath and refocus. And sometimes a deep breath isn't even enough.
Of course anger and frustration is not something unique to our times. We hear about this often in the Bible. Think about the Exodus when the Israelites were angry and “murmuring” at Moses for leading away them slavery into the unknown desert. They didn't like the location of their camps or the food that had been given. (Exodus 16:12) Or pause and reflect on Jesus' relationship with the disciples which often was one of frustration and sometimes testy exchanges. Recall when the disciples offer crowd control to keep the children from Jesus and He chastises them. (Mark 10:14) Paul's letter to the newly formed Christian communities in Corinth (1 Cor 1:11) strongly exhorts followers to put aside disputes. My guess is fear, uncertainty and anxiety often influenced these behaviors just like in our days now.
I gently invite us all to be kind and caring to those you encounter, as everyone we meet is a beloved child of God. Many of us are working extra hours in stressful, unexpected situations. Economic uncertainty, employment fragility and health concerns may be weighing on you and others you love.
Here at St. Paul's, our many wonderful volunteers spend considerable time to make our congregation the vibrant loving community it is. Our amazing staff (all part time except me) work extra hours and bring immense creativity as they are passionate about our church and loving God's people. Respect, gratitude and a simple kind word goes very far when all of us are dealing with the same concerns about the pandemic, our families, health and our jobs.
As Mother Theresa said: "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
Remember my door (or a zoom line!) is always open for conversation. If you find yourself experiencing constant or extreme emotions of sadness, depression or anger that might be best helped with a professional, please know that I can confidentially help you find supportive services. And please remember to pray to God for strength, patience and a gentle spirit for we walk together with the Lord at all times.
With love and hope