“Connection” by Sandy Bria
This past week we celebrated the Thanksgiving Holiday. For me, suffice it to say, the week was like no other as my family was forced to quarantine under the threat of Covid. While test results eventually came back negative, we were not able to celebrate in person on the holiday. I discussed my disappointment with a very wise friend from St. Paul’s, who suggested that “thanksgiving is a state of awareness, more than a day.” Those words stopped me in my tracks. My friend was absolutely right and she reminded me yet again of the extraordinary St. Paul’s community of which I am a part.
When the pandemic hit full force in March, one of the biggest blows I suffered was when St. Paul’s had to close its doors. How was I going to maintain my connection to this place that had come to feel like my second home? It might have been too much to bear. But then the magic that is St. Paul’s kicked in (along with Zoom!) and a new way of connecting slowly started to take form. I was part of a phone tree that St. Paul’s created to reach out to parishioners. The Race & Social Justice Coalition did not want to stop meeting so we figured out how to use this “crazy Zoom thing” and kept meeting. The Vestry also learned how to navigate Zoom to continue its meetings, deciding even to meet twice a month to support St. Paul’s in this crisis. Father Daniel was saying prayers and Sunday service from his house on the river. Who does that??? Apparently we do. When I felt particularly sad one day and missed our healing ministry terribly, it occurred to me that if anyone could figure out how to offer healing during a time when we cannot even see each other in person … St. Paul’s could. And we did! When a survey was created to reach out to parishioners to gauge how they were faring during the pandemic and how St. Paul’s could help, it was clear people missed their community and a “regathering” team was pulled together. There was the issue of fundraising and figuring out how to find a way to financially support St. Paul’s when our gala and cabaret and holiday fair and everything in between were no longer available. Enter the first ever St. Paul’s Virtual Silent Auction We were skeptical at first, change is hard, but it was an overwhelming success!
As I reflect on the last nine months and the myriad of changes that have taken place in my life and in the world, I do have an overwhelming sense of loss. However, the one constant for me, the one thing that has not changed, is my connection to the beautiful space that is St. Paul’s and the feeling of being home when I am there. Working with the staff and other parishioners that I am blessed to call my friends and working on behalf of and being in service to St. Paul’s has continued to give me the connection I so desperately need and was really afraid of losing.