Not one of us can know for sure whether or not this is The Beginning, The Middle, or The End of this COVID 19 Pandemic. Politics do not determine what a virus will do – no matter what people say.
Some say that the end is around the corner. And some are saying that it will get worse before it gets better. We just don’t know.
For religious leaders of several faiths, this is ordinarily The Busy Season:
- Sukkot is October 2-9 (Jews)
- World Communion Sunday is this weekend (Mainline Protestant Christians)
- Reformation Sunday is October 25 (Reformed Mainline Protestant Christians)
- All Saints Day is November 1 (Roman Catholic and Mainline Protestant Christians)
- Advent is November 29-December 25 (Roman Catholic and Mainline Christians)
- Hanukkah is December 10-18 (Jews)
- Christmas Eve is December 24 (Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians)
- Christmas Day is December 25 (Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians)
It’s also – ordinarily – the season of new classes, stewardship programs, and Thanksgiving mission events. If we were all meeting in person, our calendars would be overscheduled with meetings, classes, and hands-on projects.
Most of us still have those overscheduled calendars only we are also dealing with home-schooling students, isolation, inability to travel freely and visit people, limited social outlets, loss of income, change of personal plans, constant criticism from congregants, and general anxiety about the future.
Will people ever “come back” to church”
Will we ever recover from this?
What work are you actually doing from home, anyway?
- Hitting the wall at six months is normal. While we might have started with a burst of energy in March, “you may suddenly feel as though you have run out of fuel.”
- We need a little break. Dr. Ahmad’s research with soldiers, disaster relief workers, and others in traumatic situations finds that we are tired at six months in a way that we weren’t tired at three months or we won’t be in a few weeks. “If a physical retreat is not possible, there are ways to create a mental or figurative ‘shore leave’.” Give yourself permission to read a whole novel, take afternoon naps, walk outside more. Re-watch all the Harry Potter movies. Stare into space with your favorite cup of warm beverage.
- Double up on Self-Care. If you ordinarily see a therapist, coach, or spiritual director consider adding more time with them if needed. Start later in the day or end earlier. Take a daily nap. Get a mani-pedi/massage (whatever you can legally do in your state) as often as you can afford it. Call your mom. Call someone who loves you like your mom.
- Manage expectations. “It’s unreasonable to expect to be sparklingly happy or wildly creative right now.” If it takes five days to write a stewardship letter, let it take five days.
- Don’t Be Afraid Going Forward. We’ve learned things since March. We’ve adapted – maybe quickly, maybe slowly. We can do this because we’ve done it.
- Don’t Bash Your Head Against the Wall. We’ll get on the other side of it but not by hurting ourselves.
And if we are tempted to give other people a hard time right now – please, for the love of God – be kind. Stop judging those working from home. Do something kind for your spiritual leaders. No bullying. No second-guessing your pastors, priests, rabbis, imams especially about COVID-19 safety issues.
Yes, we are hitting a wall. Yes, the winter is coming. This is an excellent time to grant grace to ourselves and to each other.