Sharing Our Stories: Monday Edition (11/02)
This was an email originally sent out to the parish on Monday, November 2, 2020.
Here are the latest group of stories we have collected. This is a wonderful way for us to stay connected with one another and to accompany one another on this journey. We would love to have YOUR story. Check out the broad guidelines HERE. And if you have already submitted a story, please let us have another one!
Reflection by Sally Hayman
I miss going to church. It’s been a part of my life since I was a child. Many times I’ve gone just out of a sense of duty. But I enjoy singing the hymns, seeing friends, and learning something through the sermon. Does it make God happy? Probably not. But we joke that it makes the rector happy to see the pews filled.
But often we don’t realize how much we depend upon something until we lose it. And the closure of our church due to the pandemic has caused me to have some thoughts about virtual reality and what it means to be a human being.
Perhaps it’s my generation, but I am just not content with virtual reality. Unlike 90% of the world I eschew Facebook, and have never, knowingly, read a Tweet. It seems to me that these technological wonders are just screens that allow people to hide behind them, and project a wished for image.
At the chore of our Christian religion is the belief that God has become fully human. He has really died and has really suffered. If we understand ourselves and our neighbors as humans, we can understand God. We can see God in other human beings, and we can taste God in the Eucharist.
Part of our humanity is the desire to share a meal with others. Whether it’s an elegant dinner party, a pot luck, or Abraham ordering up a meal for his guests, it’s as much a part of our inner being as the spider’s knowledge of how to set up a web. Jesus knew at the Last Supper, that this meal would bring him alive again to us.
Put this into our situation when any “gathering” is fraught with danger and even death. We have to view even our dearest relatives as potential carriers of disease. The “science” or God of reason tells us that it is just safer for everyone to stay home. No wonder a psychologist at the University of Washington estimated that probably 40% of the population would suffer clinical levels of depression and anxiety in the coming year.
We are in this pandemic for the long haul. The virus will probably never go away, and we’ll have to learn how to live with it. And we’ll have to make accommodations.
Recently, Bob and I have started attending mass at St. James Cathedral. We made a reservation for one of the four services offered. There are 200 seats, 10% of the capacity. We are met at the door by masked ushers who check us off the list and show us to our seats. Programs in the pews show where to sit, and every other pew is roped off. Doors are open for ventilation, and everyone leaves by the nearest door at the end of the service…no visiting. The cantor, and the organ supply the music. The service is shorter, allowing time for sanitizing pews before the next service. And, unfortunately, there is no offering.
I can’t explain the relief I felt that this normal service was going on. But it was lucky that I was wearing a mask to catch the tears I couldn’t stop, in this sacred gathering. Inside the dome of St. James are the words “I am in the midst of you”, and service itself expressed the reality of those words. I was inspired by Father Michael’s Ryan’s words in his Easter sermon about the resurrection. “We are not here to celebrate a metaphor.”