Dear Church of the Holy City community,
I don’t know about you but I really like routine. A good routine brings out the best in me, not in small measure because I work more efficiently when I am calm. But these days, there is plenty to throw us all off balance, plenty to start feeling anxious about. And in that state of mind, I start to feel a little off my game, slower, dare I say even paralyzed. Unfortunately, then I start to judge myself, to feel bad about not being as productive or as on top of things as I would like, and I start on turn inward, away from my discomfort, away from the disquieting world. I become a little bit numb. It’s an understandable reaction, but not really how I want to life my life. But, what if we tried to see being off balance as a gift? What if we asked the question: what am I being invited to see in this slower time, in this time slightly askew? These are Lenten questions, the season we find ourselves in right now, even if we are living this season in a way that we did not expect.
To quote the poet Mary Oliver: Attention is the beginning of devotion. As we find that our normal ways of devotion, our normal ways of doing everything, are disrupted, what new pathways to devotion are asking to be uncovered? What things within us have been crying out for attention, for enough quiet, for enough slowness, to bloom? Attention is the beginning of devotion, and devotion is simply a way to become aware of God’s constant presence with us. Let us pause, and breathe, and take notice. Let us notice what kindnesses are due, what offerings are rising up, what insights are awakening. Let us notice our neighbor, our family, our environment with new eyes. Let us notice the forgotten, the left behind and the lonely. Let us notice each other. And then let us act in love. For as much as these last days have created inconvenience, disappointment and worry, so too do they speak to an enormous communal selflessness. We have disrupted the normalcy of our lives for the sake of others, for the sake of the common good. These days have laid bare the truth of our essential connectedness; may this lesson settle eternally in our hearts, may it be bound up unbreakably with our very DNA, may it become our true north and our bright star. May we never forget that we belong to each other.
And finally, I offer a prayer from my favorite Australian cartoonist and poet, Michael Leunig:
God help us to move slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.
So, as announced previously, Sunday services at The Church of the Holy City have been suspended for the time being. For this Sunday, I invite you to worship with The Swedenborgian Community Online (www.swedenborgiancommunity.org), and Rev. Cory Bradford-Watts. They will offer a live YouTube service on March 15th at 8pm EDT. You can also access all their other archived services and interviews at that website. For the following Sunday (March 22nd), The Church of the Holy City will be offering an online worship service. Please look for details on how to access that service in our upcoming newsletter, and on our website and Facebook page.
Thank you dear community! Please do not hesitate to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rev. Shada Sullivan
Pastor, The Church of the Holy City