Kirsten here 😊
I am reaching out to all of you to say all the things.
I miss you. Jen D and I are thinking of you. We’re worrying and scratching our heads about what the next school year will bring; and we keep reflecting on how our church community can help us navigate this crazy life with more intention, grace, and support.
So, let’s talk about that last thing, ok? What does our church and our faith offer us right now- especially right now- and what do we need to do to harness the opportunity?
Support. Perhaps one of the most challenging and fascinating aspects of this moment in history is how we are in some ways more collectively living a singular experience (this pandemic is turning the entire globe on it’s end, as is the climate crisis), and yet, the experience is unique for each and every one of us. For some of us, our work life has shrunk drastically, for others, work has remained fairly steady, and still others of us have had to shift to an entirely new hyper-speed gear in regard to work; Financial implications of all of those realities are equally disparate. Last spring, some of our children shifted to online learning with ease, for others, it was an utter disaster. Our health risks related to Covid 19 are wildly different, as are the degrees of loss- some of us are grieving the loss of beloveds, other’s don’t have any close family or friends who have died. Some of our parents are safe, some are needing unprecedented help from their adult children at a time when those same children are simultaneously stretched in every other way. Still, no matter your particular circumstances, all of us are grieving deeply right now. This moment of uncertainty and looming fears takes a deep toll on our hearts- even if we are doing relatively well through it all. You may notice it in spells of lethargy or hopelessness. I’ve taken to calling it “the corona-coaster”: some days it feels like things are ok, other days are so, so heavy. That grief needs care and tending, and dear parents, sometimes we are not great at tending to our own grief. For example, some of the things I say and do to avoid tending to my own grief:
My inner (or sometimes outer) voice diminishes my sadness: “Yes, this is hard, but compared to X, I’m so fortunate…”
I think to myself: “I just need to keep going, if I start thinking about it all I will crumble.“
The moment I stop working or parenting, I keep catching myself filling my time with television or an audiobook so I can continue to avoid my thoughts.
I really want to pour a glass of wine or open a beer at night.. most nights..
I suspect many of you could make your own list of habits that you know aren’t serving you well, and yet, many of us have consciously or subconsciously excluded ourselves from the list of the people for whom we are responsible. Where do we rank amongst our children, our jobs, our family, and our friends?
My family snuck away for a vacation with a few other families last week– each family rented neighboring cabins. We did our (imperfect) best to minimize Covid risk (kids stayed out of other peoples living spaces, we socialized outdoors.) It was probably not the safest thing to do, but we needed it desperately. IT. We needed each other. We needed to see each other doing our imperfect best, we needed to share the load of parenting, we needed to vent and laugh, and strategize, and wring our hands. Our kids needed to be with other kids- not siblings, and they needed to be with other adults- not their parents.
Our church can help offer those things to us all the time, and especially now. I know it can feel like one more thing to fit in, but it’s different. Our collective can share the load of each of it’s parts. We can offer one another space to mourn ‘the everything’ of this moment, we are the ‘other’ adults for the children of our congregation and our children are given space at church to feel all the feelings of this moment, too– we all need to play and laugh (and dance!) and learn about serving others, and take action to change the world. That is how to tend to this grief, it is tremendously important for us to keep practicing those skills together.
Church looks different right now, and it will surely continue to look different in the coming months, but it’s still here. Jen and I are working on creating outdoor times for our children to connect. We are thinking about how and when we might endeavor to meet one another indoors with safety measures in place. We are reflecting deeply about how to time those opportunities so that they don’t overwhelm our families who will surely be stretched again this fall no matter what form our schools decide to take.
There is not going to be one answer to what church looks like for South Church families in the coming year. Please offer yourselves Grace when something doesn’t work for you; I do not believe that church participation rooted in guilt nourishes any of us. AND, Also… Please set Intention around your commitment to all of us, just as you do with so many other things in this wild, busy life. If you have not encouraged your kids to join a church zoom offering, consider trying one out this summer while they have more free time- there are some really sweet things happening in those spaces- imperfectly sweet, not-the-same-as-in-person sweet. Definitely try to join us for the in-person offerings being planned as well! Kids need to have regular contact with one another or their connections fade, and sometimes when connections fade, it’s hard to get them started again. Come to worship as a family on Sunday mornings. Gather some coloring supplies, or a favorite toy. Bring a candle so you can light the chalice with us. If your children lose interest after the time for all ages, let it be, but ask them back for that beginning again the next week.
I promise you, that pushing to keep your children in relationship with South Church, and choosing to keep that relationship alive for yourself will nourish you all through what you receive and what you are able to give in the exchange.
Last week I was fantasizing with our travel crew about how amazing it would be to live more communally– to have a homestead organized around shared common space where many families shared meals and co-parented. South Church isn’t quite that, but it’s a far cry from doing this work alone, and that is, perhaps, the best news I can share with each of you– we have each other. Whatever comes in the coming months, I am so grateful to be facing it together with all of you. 🖤
Monday, August 3rd~Parent reflection and vespers service– 8pm. We will meet on zoom for a 45 minute facilitated reflection on parenting in this moment, and we will close with a 15 minute shared vesper service. Please arrive on time, and give yourself a minute before hand to ground yourself in your space- if at all possible, avoid multi tasking for this hour. Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87474902814