May 8

I continue to be held and inspired by the writing of Lynn Ungar. Her work informs my own.

 

Essential

How do you know what’s essential?
Could you have predicted
this particular version of paring down?
Perhaps your work is essential,
but maybe not. The face you wear
to the outside world, the picture
in the mirror, has probably slipped.
Even the fundamentals of human
touch might not be required
to assure us that we are not alone.
Who could have imagined
that we would somehow come down
to making bread without even yeast?
To the fact that with nothing more
than food and water and air and time,
even the least of us
will find a way to rise?

–Lynn Ungar 4-28-20

lynnungar.com

 

Young People Focusing on the Helpers

Last Sunday, Sarah Cappelli & I gathered with young people on Zoom to share ways of thanking essential workers including bus drivers, grocery workers, letter carriers, medical professionals and others. On Monday I taped a crayoned thank you note on my trash can to thank the people who work to pick-up our garbage. Sarah taught us ways to make beautiful postcards at home, on paper or online.  It is never too late to show gratitude! Please follow this link to see the slides from Sarah with instructions and where to send. Parents can choose to have kids  give their cards directly or send to me.
Take care & Be well, Cathy

 

 

April 8

Parenting in a Time of Pandemic

All families have been in my heart and on my mind as we navigate, cope, and deal with life in this time of COVID19. For those who have financial access and time to view them, there are countless online resources from schools, agencies, networks and groups.

Through these weeks, I have listened to many parents who are overwhelmed and exhausted. They use all of their energy attending to their own workload, in addition to the tasks of home schooling and providing food and other necessities for households. I understand. You can contact me for a listening ear and a loving heart.

There are things that have fed me, and helped me cope, beyond snacks, walks, and rest. Messages and connections from colleagues who are my spiritual guides the top the list. I share some of their wisdom about how to vision forward, as a love note to you.

Cathy

 

On The Other Side

by Lynn Ungar, UU minister/poet

Through the looking glass,

down the rabbit hole,

into the wardrobe and out

into the enchanted forest

where animals talk

and danger lurks and nothing

works quite the way it did before,

you have fallen into a new story.

It is possible that you

are much bigger—or smaller—

than you thought.

It is possible to drown

in the ocean of your own tears.

It is possible that mysterious friends

have armed you with magical weapons

you don’t yet understand,

but which you will need

to save your own life and the world.

Everything here is foreign.

Nothing quite makes sense.

That’s how it works.

Do not confuse the beginning

of the story with the end.

 

What Does It Look Like on the Other Side?

From Rabbi Michelle T. Dardashti – Brown/RISD Hillel

This Year, “As Though We Personally Came Out of Covid: What Does It Look Like On the Other Side?”

In every generation, we’re asked to see ourselves as though we personally came out of Egypt. For this generation, certainly this year, Egypt is Covid. The root of the word Egypt, in Hebrew, is tzar “narrow.” The Hebrew root of Coved is kaved, “heavy.” This year, our universal narrowness is a heaviness called Covid. Its weight and its constriction – its reach and its lethality – are unfathomable. As impossible to wrap our heads around as any of the plagues of Egypt. Is this what it felt like? Not all of us—yet—feel the full weight of Covid’s heaviness upon our families, upon our incomes, upon our lungs. But we are all impacted, regardless of age, class, race or geography. The question is: how will we emerge from under this heavy weight?

How will we as individuals look different? How will our families look different? Our neighborhoods? Our schools? Our activism? Our places of worship? Our places of work? Our states, countries, our universe?

How? In every generation, we’re asked to see ourselves as though we personally came out of Egypt.

This year, we have a unique–and weighty–opportunity: to truly decide what we’ll look like on the other side, if/when we God willing, make it there. When the virus is through, if/when we have our freedom again to roam, to be proximate, what will that freedom look like? How will we reengage with our neighbors, our needy, our jobs, friends, technology – ourselves?

The Seder was an institution meant to address the paradigm shift in which the rabbis found themselves in the wake of the Temple’s destruction. The Passover story and Seder similarly inspire and inform our own moment of re-learning how to live into our days and our traditions.

May this Passover shed light – light on who and how we want to be when the great weight and darkness of Covid is lifted. Please God, may I see you on the other side. In health, in wholeness, in peace. May we see ourselves and one another with enlightened eyes. We know now better than ever how to maintain distance. What will freedom to physically reconnect look like? Will we want it back?

Many of us are resonating with the idea of Covid as the plague of Darkness. It’s a plague that makes us unable to see our neighbors, a plague that keeps us stuck where we are. It is heavy, indeed, and it threatens to crush: my empathy, my goodness, my very ability to see the others’ needs, presence, claims upon me.

But the opposite of both darkness and heaviness is light.


March 27

At Home Chalice Challenge: Kids from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers invite you to participate in the At Home Chalice Challenge! During a time of social distancing, we cannot gather in our churches and fellowship halls to light our chalices, but that doesn’t mean we can’t carry the flame within our hearts at home. Take some pics of the chalices you create at home and post them on social media using #chalicechallenge.  Watch this video for fun ideas.

Young People Buddies: During a Zoom parent gathering, one of our volunteer teachers suggested that their 10-year-old offered to be a check-in buddy for a 5-year-old who needs a pal. I love this idea, as some children just want to chat when parents and siblings are busy. Please contact me dre@firstunitarianprov.org if your child/youth would like to be a buddy or if your child/youth needs one. Once I know who is interested, I will cook up a system.

Retired Teachers Supporting Parents: People are helping their own children with distance learning, and some are struggling. Rev. Liz mentioned the idea that we may have retired teachers in the congregation who might help. Are you a willing retired teacher or a parent who would like support in learning to manage virtual school? If so, please contact me dre@firstunitarianprov.org.

Trauma Informed Practices: “When people are facing stress and difficult life circumstances, it can particularly affect three areas: a sense of safety, feelings of connectedness and feelings of hope. In each of these areas, parents and educators can make an impact.” Click here for more information.


March 19

Dear Ones,

 

You are in my heart and on my mind each day as we move together through this huge health crisis and its dominoeffects. Each of us is dealing with challenges ranging from actual illness to financial crisis, to anxiety, stress and sadness. I am grateful for you, our congregational community, and many other people in my life who are reaching out to care for one another. Of course, our staff team along with amazing communications and tech volunteers are working together to continue to provide worshipful offerings and virtual connections in many aspects of congregational life.

I am aware that children youth, parents, and all adults may feel overwhelmed as we navigate this unbelievable change in daily living. I am encouraging myself, along with you, to breathe and try to find balance in sorting through online opportunities while making sure we have frequent outdoor time, exercise, nutrition, and rest.

For now, I am sharing a few links, a photo collage of last Friday evening’s virtual at-home supper and program and a brief description of what I will share in the next few days.

I am in the process of setting up and hosting Zoom check-in opportunities for many small groups, including youth and parents. For example, our UU campus group met virtually on Sunday evening for comfort and even some laughs. Senior high youth and coming of agers are next.

I will continue to curate and post here spiritual care and other fun resources for families, children, and youth, including online tours, music, storytelling, and more. My colleague network is amazingly organized and supportive in this work.

Mostly, please feel our presence, helping to hold you!

Take good care & love,

Cathy

 

Here are a few links for experiences in these times at home:

Stories read by famous peeps:

https://www.storylineonline.net

Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus”:

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus

Resources to talk to children and teens about the coronavirus:

https://parenting.nytimes.com/childre…/coronavirus-kids-talk

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/…/ways-to-reduce-anxiety

https://www.healthline.com/…/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-the-…

https://www.nytimes.com/…/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html

 Tour National Parks from Home:

https://crafty.diply.com/121060/you-can-virtually-tour-a-whole-bunch-of-national-parks-from-your?fbclid=IwAR1szAYNWJKx173cX_5HtWgBV_8CxBKXfI3ldGZyqlSKQxjayWNQ7sQRrhU

Broadway Stars streaming live performances:

https://secretnyc.co/broadway-stars-nightly-performances/?fbclid=IwAR1HSZYBJM_L6V0sExX0-m6E5iWyD8AuvcFDXUGLKH7QT9NUKgBeI5yUWEY


March 14:

My first message through this link is a copy of the RETimes communication, a weekly message sent to our volunteer teachers, advisors and other leaders. Currently, I am at work launching online community connections, informing groups and curating resources, I look forward to continuing to share here.

Dear Ones,

I have waited, anxiously, to send this message until the official church announcement was public, also posted on the church website and on FB page. Please know that I am holding you in my heart as we navigate this health care issue.

We are transitioning more comprehensively to virtual community connections. Stay tuned, as I will be setting up on-line circles for youth, sharing resources for spiritual care, fun for families and more.

I have had a Zoom (online video conferencing) account for RE for several years and will now be putting it to good use. All general content that I share with teachers will also be posted through the church website www.firstunitarianprov.org Additionally, I will separately share ways to gather in small groups online with teachers, advisors and leaders.

I remain devoted to my work in providing UU faith development for children, youth and adults. I will also be practicing self-care. Please contact me for individual questions and needs.

Take good care & Love,

Cathy

 

Pandemic — Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

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.