We are entering a unique time, for sure. In this next unknown stretch of time, spaciousness, flexibility and slowing down will be essential to how we continue to operate as a community.
This was not my first reaction in recent days and nights. I would say that anxiety and overwhelm have been my default reactions. So I feel grateful for all the people who are seeing a path forward in this, and for the wisdom that is being shared. One of those people we are fortunate to have with us, is Rev. Deanna. She has calmly shared deep wisdom from her experience in New Orleans with the ways communities responded to natural and human-made disasters. From our leadership discussions, our reading, and our connection to UU congregations all over the country, we have more clarity about what will be needed going forward.
Our primary focus at this time is on caring for one another and for ourselves. And to strengthen our community connections, even when we find we might need to isolate more physically. Westside’s leadership will remain plugged in to what is evolving on the public health front, and we will roll with what is needed and what is most beneficial for our congregation and beyond. That means things might evolve in how we operate for a time. And that will be ok.
While there doesn’t appear to be evidence to act in urgently radical ways, we can move with careful intention, following trusted sources of information such as the CDC — https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
We will need to make a little more space for ourselves, for each other, and for our larger community — space to do things differently; space for people to show up differently or to not show up; space to re-prioritize and slow things down; space to focus our attention differently; and space to make changes in these very plans as needed.
From today forward for now, we invite any group that is meeting to consider taking advantage of our amazing Zoom resources, so that our small group ministries, our committees and teams, can continue to be connected without coming together in person. If in-person meetings are felt to be needed at this time, it will be important to offer individual participants the opportunity to connect in through Zoom or phones. Or at the least, to share follow-up phone or email connections and updates from our meetings. Please contact our administrator, Shannon Day, to schedule Zoom meetings (firstname.lastname@example.org, or 206-935-0418), or me for guidance in using Zoom (email@example.com, or 410-274-2018).
We will continue to offer Sunday services in person at this time, and will begin exploring ways to share those with community members who are not physically attending. You might notice changes in how food is shared during our social hour, or we might have a period of meeting with no food at all. Perhaps we will choose at some point not to meet for a physical social hour as a community, for a temporary period. We may not need to do that, but we are making space for it.
And in this new space we are making, we might consider releasing some of the priorities and tasks that drive us from week to week, so we can focus our energies on caring for ourselves and one another. Fortunately, we are not in need of committee activities, religious education, shared music making, or even sermons, for our survival. However, we are all in need of connection, care and support. What would it look like and feel like to make this our highest priority for our Westside commitment in the coming stretch of time? To focus on reaching out to one another; to offering care as we can; to finding new ways to comfort each other in person or electronically, and new ways to meet to laugh together for relief?
Our board will likely shift some of our focus to navigating the care, support and guidance required in our beloved community for a time. Some of our initiatives can be moved to the back burners for a bit as we focus on supporting the larger congregation in building care teams and in learning how to operate as a community in different ways than we’re used to.
This is not a crisis call. It is an invitation to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with each other in loving and supportive ways. We will not regret this generosity of spirit. We will not regret this spaciousness or this slowing down.
For now, may you find new moments of quiet for breathing while you wash your hands more frequently and for a longer time than we might typically do that!
Feel free to be in touch with questions or other thoughts.
To be continued!