Jan and I have been watching episodes of “Alone” on the History channel during these days of ‘sheltering at home’.   Our experience is not even close to the survivalists who agree to live alone – completely alone – in a remote and desolate environment with just a few tools of their choosing.  What strikes me most is that the deepest and unexpected struggle to overcome, is the experience of isolation – being totally alone.  Humans are relational beings.  We gather, congregate, form community, develop relationships.  Deep life-giving relationships.

“Sheltering at home” can have hidden and unseen consequences: anger, frustration, exhaustion, impatience, depression, anxiety, to name a few.  “Why am I so tired all the time?” is a question I’ve heard many times.  It is important to “connect”, “reach out”, have conversations and maintain relationships as best you can. They are life-giving. And…don’t neglect that deep, primary relationship with God.  It too, is life-giving. Which begs the question:  “Are you really alone?” The God-soul connection is timeless. This relationship is not bound by space and place.  It can thrive in solitude; if we attend to it and nurture it. In fact, I can think of profound and powerful words & wisdom that have had their origin in prison.  A place of total isolation.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer – wrote “Letters from Prison” and spoke beautifully about prayer, community, laughter and music, while imprisoned at Buchenwald, before he was killed.  Martin Luther King, Jr. – “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” elevates ‘hope’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘unity’ as he quotes Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, Thomas Aquinas and St.  Augustine. Apostle Paul – wrote many epistles from prison.  Notably his letter to the Philippians is Paul’s most joyful epistle.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say “Rejoice!”(4:4) He said that in prison!  John McCain – POW  “Hanoi Hilton” for 5 ½ years.  “It shaped my life and set me free” said McCain.

No, we are not in prison, but as we spend more time at home and perhaps alone, take it as a time to grow and develop in unexpected ways.  And if you feel impatient, angry, frustrated, one thing that might help is to turn off the television, the news feeds.  Relentless messages and images can de-sensitize us and make us numb.  Ironically, the very tools of media that make possible our connection with others can also drain life and energy out of us.

Sooo…take a walk, take a bath, take a nap, take deep breaths, read, say your prayers,
ask for help, help where you can…and know that you are not alone!

+++ Some updates:
*We have received compensation through the PPP. “Thank you”! to Maggie Gould and Mike Milo, treasurer, for providing documentation and attending to the application process.
*Thank YOU –people of Grace for your steady & dependable offerings/tithes/gifts. Because of your financial support we

   again report that “income is ahead of expenses”.
*When will Worship resume?  We still have no ‘target date’ on the calendar but it will not be during the month of May.

   Important as “when” to return, is “how”.  Custodian Fred is at work sanitizing all surfaces at church:  pews, doors/door handles, bathrooms. We will probably do “paper-less worship” (no bulletins) when we resume.  Social-distancing will be practiced inside the sanctuary as well.

                         +As always…Peace and Blessings be yours.    Stay safe. Be well.            Pastor Hillmer

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