Come to Me

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Hi everyone.  Happy 4th of July weekend.  I hope you’re able to celebrate some of the usual holiday aspects of this special day, including maybe having some fireworks, hotdogs, hamburgers and watermelon of your own.  Please tell me s’mores are involved!  

As we celebrate this national holiday, I know we’re all reminded that “freedom isn’t free” so a special thank you to all of those brave men and women and their families who gave and sacrificed so much so we can live free.  Thank you one and all.  May this Independence Day be an opportunity for us all to consider what price has been paid for our freedoms.  And may we never take freedom for granted.

As you know we’re in our 17th week of celebrating church together while using Emmanuel at Home.  While we’d all love to be back in our church building to celebrate together, we’re grateful for all of the time, talent and energy the staff, primarily Joani, puts into building this service every week.  Thank you to each of you who take the time to click in to our service.  It’s great to have you with us.

In reflecting on 17 weeks of social distancing, working and going to school while at home and the toll that has taken on everyone, I’m reminded of what a gift adrenaline is when we need it.

The adrenaline surge we experience when a crisis hits is never as long as we need it to be, but it is often long enough to get us through the immediate danger (think about: a flood, or a hurricane, or a landslide, or the death of a loved one, etc.)

Many of us have lived through natural disasters.  I remember well Hurricane Agnes which pummeled our area in June of 1972.  I was 12 years old and I can still remember the huge maple tree it took down in my family’s front yard.  My Dad sawed the remaining part of that tree with a handsaw.  I’m not kidding!  Trust me, it was pure adrenaline that gave Dad the fuel he needed to chop and saw that tree down.  The seven of us kids and Mom did what we could to help; but it was all Dad who got the biggest part of that job done.  Pure adrenaline.  

Many of us have survived natural disasters, and all of us have survived personal crises and we know there’s a rhythm to crises when they come.  

We know there’s the moment of crisis, and everyone comes together and we’re incredibly fueled by the adrenaline rush of “Getting the job done!” – whatever it is – or checking in to ask, “How can I help?  We’re so focused in on what needs to happen next that we barely notice that the life we knew before has ended – and that we have begun a new life we didn’t see coming.

Slowly the crisis part of what has happened comes to an end and that is when the loss of what was “normal” becomes increasingly real.

We’ve come to the end of our coronavirus adrenaline surge and we know first hand that what used to be normal has changed and we’re in a whole new reality and we find ourselves weary.  

We now know that COVID-19 is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  And we find ourselves in Mile # 6 … of 26.2.  We have a long way left to run.

In this marathon we’re all learning that we have to take care of ourselves if we want to be of any help to those around us.  We’re living and functioning in a new reality and we need to identify what we each need to do to take care of ourselves for the long haul.

Everyone has their own way of coping with crisis.  We’re all wired differently, so how we address our challenges is going to look as different and unique as each one of us.  

I’ve compiled a list of some suggestions I have gleaned from listening to all of you as you’ve dealt with, coped with, and thrived during this pandemic  You’re actually doing great – even if it doesn’t always feel like it at the time.

I’ll get to the helpful-hint list in a minute; but before I get there I’d like to take full advantage of what Jesus said in the Gospel reading today.  

1)  When Jesus looked at His disciples and followers who were all around Him, He looked at them with pride, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and with so much love.  When He noticed they were tired from their journey or from whatever life had thrown at them, one day He said the most beautiful thing and someone remembered those words, eventually shared them with others and finally one of the Gospel writers wrote them down for us to embrace today.

Jesus said a long time ago, and as recently as yesterday, and reminds us again today, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Has there ever been a more gracious invitation?  I suspect not.  

It’s as if the very Son of God saw into our hearts and needs and said, “Come and sit awhile, tell me everything you want for me to know.  I’m here.  I care.  Stay for as long as you’d like.  I won’t move a muscle until you have finished.  I’m right here.”  I love that.  Don’t you?  So take advantage of that invitation when ever you need Him.  He’ll be there.

Whatever you are doing  during this pandemic may well be working well for you and those you love; but if you find yourself weary and in need of some suggestions to help you through this present time, some of our parishioners have shared with me how they’re getting through.  In no particular order, here’s what they have shared:

2)  Limit your news intake.  

Limit your screen time.  

Find 1 or 2 reliable news sources which you trust – particularly in the area of science and epidemiology.

3)  Create a plan with those you live with – or with friends, if like me, you also live alone – and design a plan where you are supporting one another.  Some call it a Gap-Plan.  For example, when you’ve only got 20% left to give, what is the family Gap-Plan for making up the other 80%?

4)  Sleep.  8 hours a night.

5)  Move your body.  I’m back to walking 5 miles a day.  Sedentary bodies are where we build up stress.  Moving our bodies helps get rid of stress.  Be careful.  Pace yourself.  At the very least: walk, walk, walk.

6)  Eat well.

7)  Watch what we say and how we say it to each other.

8)  Say you are sorry when you need to.

9)  If someone apologizes to you, be gracious, and accept the apology.  Say “Thank you.”  Do not say, “That’s okay.”  Accept their apology graciously.  And …

10)  Remember, “It’s okay to not be okay.”  One of our parishioners had read an article which said, “We don’t have to always find the silver lining – or improve ourselves – or necessarily have a great attitude about the pandemic situation … because we’re all human and those negative thoughts and feelings are real too.”  Very helpful advice.  “It’s okay t not be okay.”  This is a rough time for lots of people.

And finally, 11) the story of the muscadine jelly.  I’ve never shared this story before.  

(You’ll have to listen to the audio or watch the video version of this homily to catch this story.)

All of this to say:  “If you’re weary?”  You’re normal.  We’re in the beginning phase of a pandemic.  We have a long way left to run.  Take care of yourselves.  Pray.  Eat.  Sleep.  Walk. And whenever necessary, pour some of whatever your version of muscadine jelly is all over yourself and enjoy!

Stay safe.  Stay smart.

Peace friends, chuck.

Spirituality The Episcopal Church

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The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

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