March 24, 2020
Dear St. Paul’s Parish Community,
Another week has brought us rapidly to another place in our collective and personal lives. I have written previously of the heavy loss we are feeling at the death last night of our long-time parishioner Mary Roman. We also mourn with another parish member, Frank Kimball, for the loss of his life partner, Andrew. And we continue to mourn with Joe Shafranek in the aftermath of our own Tom Hickey’s death, following an aggressive battle with pancreatic cancer. As the effects of this worldwide pandemic touch us more personally, and as losses from other corners continue, it may bring up a whole range of emotion.
“I am not ready for this,” is a phrase I have heard increasingly from others this past week, and I have heard it on my own lips as well. We are seldom ready for adversity, collective or personal, and it is never welcome. Still, it comes, as a part of all our lives, at many points along the way. And yet, in the mystery of life, adversity drives us to a deeper foundation like almost nothing else in life. It drives us back to the present moment, drives us deep to the heart of our relationships, drives us on to find a center deeper than our separate selves.
In the midst of this adversity, through the stories I am hearing and seeing, we are going deep and holding one another tight all around the parish. There is dedicated care-giving happening in every way possible, despite our physical separation. The elders among us are being checked in on regularly. The ongoing parish-wide phone check-in reached nearly 300 households this past week, and our online worship has become a daily anchor to many. Sunday’s coffee-hour Zoom conversation after church brimmed with the hungry pleasure of seeing one another’s faces.
This coming week we will be creating more ways to connect and share our lives in this time of adversity: the website now has a Prayer Requests page, stpaulsnorwalk.org/prayerlist, where you can hold those who have asked for our prayers. We also now have a Resources page, stpaulsnorwalk.org/resources, where you can submit links to sources that have helped you cope, heal, and hope.
I find a resonance between our current life situation and the earliest days of Christianity, when the “People of the Way,” as they were then called, burned with a focused solidarity in the midst of collectively adverse times. They were so compelled by the love-in-action they discovered alive among themselves that they followed Jesus’ Way of Love across all boundaries, divides, and obstacles.
This was how our Mary lived – so abundantly clear to anyone who met her, even for a moment. As she continues now into the nearer presence of God, may we hold her and her family close, and burn equally bright in these days that are given to us. I am grateful to walk this way with you all.