August 2020, A Note From the Preacher Woman

Beloved:

My mind woke up running song lyrics this morning. This is not unusual. Friends and family can attest that they can tell what kind of mood I’m in by what song I am humming. The Beach Boys is my go-to when I am anticipating a fun day (“Wipeout!”). Mike looks forward to hearing me hum “I’m an old cowhand, from the Rio Grand,” which for some reason I always hum when I am thinking happy thoughts about my husband (yippee kai yo kai yay!). An aria from Carmen often pops out (e.g. Habenera aka The rebellious bird) when I am busily engaged in my garden. I don’t preselect them. They just come to me. Sometimes, even I don’t know what kind of mood I am in until I pay attention to what I am humming.

This morning’s lyrics began with Julie Andrews—“raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” This is not necessarily one of my favorite songs, so I thought about it for a moment, wondering why that particular song should come up on my internal juke box. Ah ha! It wasn’t about the snowflakes on eyelashes or bright paper packages tied up with string—it was about my favorite things! In moments when the news seems all dark, when injustice seems to be winning, when getting an allergy attack makes me wonder if I am about to succumb to Covid—I need some playfulness, some humor, some joy .

As I sat drinking my coffee, another tune popped up. I could remember the melody, but for the life of me, I could remember the lyrics. It was something about needing a little bit of something. I listed off things that I felt the need of—humor, whimsey, hope, laughter. Then I looked up songs that had lyrics that include “a little bit of…” You are probably already ahead of me here— but in case you haven’t pulled up the memory yet, it was a song by Johnny Mathis, and it goes like this…

Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas Right this very minute…

It made me laugh. I am definitely NOT READY for Christmas yet! But then I read the rest of the lyrics:

For I’ve grown a little leaner Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder Grown a little older

And I need a little angel Sitting on my shoulder

Need a little Christmas now
For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing, ringing through the rafter And we need a little snappy

Happy ever after
Need a little Christmas now.

Huh. Maybe I do need a little of what Christmas brings. A little music. A little laughter. A little singing (—scratch that, humming is safer). And definitely a little snappy happy ever after…

It would be easy when life gets hard to just wrap myself up in hopeful song lyrics and hermit in my own cave. I am not suggesting that any of us do that. But, on the other hand, I believe that there are moments when we need to give ourselves permission to allow our eyes to settle onto an enormous cat trying to fit into a tiny box, listen with joy at a baby laughing with her whole body, share pictures of our silly pets, hum Christmas carols in August. I invite us to allow our holy imaginations to dwell on those “favorite things” that create room around our hearts, our mind, our bodies. Perhaps Emily Dickenson says it the best:

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without words. and never stops at all.

Love to you all. Blessings, Pastor Nancy

July 2020, Note From the Preacher Woman

Beloved:

For the last three months, most of us (perhaps all of us) have
been operating out of Emergency Mode. We have made
decisions on a moment to moment, day by day basis, as we have
attempted to figure out the best path amidst the chaos that living
with a pandemic has created. And, really, I have been amazed by
the creativity and adaptive energy that everyone has shown.
Besides keeping worship going, feeding people, providing
information and resources to our neighbors—we have had
parades, celebrated milestones, and continued work on the
Memorial Prayer Garden and Labyrinth. We have begun the
process of creating outdoor meeting space that can be used for worship and other events while maintaining for physical distancing. The amount of time, energy, financial support, emotional encouragement, and patience is beyond counting. God is good. And, as I begin my fourth year as your pastor, I feel blessed indeed.

So, now what? We are in month four of our changed global reality. We are weary. None of us can live in emergency mode for long without paying a toll—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over these last weeks about the exhaustion, depression and anxiety so many of us are experiencing. In emergency mode, our bodies are flooded with chemicals demanding fight, flight or freeze. Living in a chemical bath of that nature for days, weeks, months does not put us in an optimal condition to make good decisions, to tolerate frustrations, or to be patient enough to allow for our best selves to be in the driver’s seat.

This week I recalled the story of what historians now call the “Phony War.” At the beginning of World War II, Britain braced itself for air attacks from the Germans. They spent weeks preparing for invasion from air and sea. Air raid precautions, black out restrictions, food rationing, mandatory curfews, mandatory gas masks, limited public transportation, and children being evacuated to the countryside. It was an intense time of preparation and waiting. And then nothing happened. For weeks. And weeks. People began to resent the sacrifices they were making for a war that didn’t appear to be happening. They were frustrated. They were angry. The were resentful. The stalemate continued for eight long months. And then, the war became all too real.

Dealing with a pandemic these last three months might seem a bit like living with the “phony war.” We stayed home. We put off trips. We limited going to the grocery store. We sanitized anything that didn’t move out of the way. And nothing seemed to happen. Many, maybe even most of us, do not know anyone who has caught the virus. But some of us do. More of us will.

What I would like to suggest for us, Beloved, is that now is the time to take a deep breath and consider living into a phrase that Beth Ann Beamer said to me this week: “Buckle down and do right.” That pretty much covers it. We are a people of hope. We are in it for the duration. God walks with us—into the times of quiet waiting, and in the moments of greatest danger. I am so thankful that we are in this together.

Blessings and peace, Pastor Nancy