Love in the Time of Corona, Chapter 7
I have two pieces of news to share with you.
Two weeks ago I invited you to participate in a sacred and holy fast that I had taken part in with some friends from Moral Monday CT. A number of you took up the challenge and joined the fast, and I’m so thankful for your support and presence throughout the journey. As of Friday, June 19th (Juneteenth), the fast came to a close. It lasted for 11 days, from sunup to sundown. It was enacted in order to get the Connecticut legislature to come back into session to take up the very important debate before us having to do with policing. Moral Monday CT took up residence on a small patch of grass on the Capitol grounds every day from early in the morning until evening time, and I did my best to get up there for a few hours most of those 11 days. Every time we felt hungry, it was a small reminder of the deep gnawing hunger that so many in our country have for equality, and for justice. Every time we felt a little weak, it was a tiny reminder of how exhausting it can be to be denied ordinary human dignity. Every time we felt irritable, or tempers frayed from lack of sustenance, it was a minuscule reminder of how emotions can be set on edge when one is deprived of that which many people take for granted – bodily well-being. And every evening when we broke the fast, it was a reminder of how satisfying it would be to actually achieve what we hoped – an end to the persecution and fear resulting from four centuries of white supremacy.
Nearly a month after George Floyd was murdered, nearly a month after cities across the country erupted in pain and fury, the Connecticut legislature finally agreed to return to session, and to do the work of rethinking public safety. There may have been strong procedural reasons to delay reopening, but it’s worth noting that to many in the African American community that I’ve been in conversation with these last weeks, it seemed like the legislature lacked the urgency the moment requires. And so I’m grateful, again, to those of you who joined the fast with me, and to those of you who took the time to call the Governor and our legislators to move them along. The work is only beginning, and God only knows what role our community may be asked to play. But know I’m proud of the way our community has responded thus far, and I’m confident we’ll continue to respond with humanity and with care.
That’s the first piece of news. The second has to do with gathering for worship over the summer. While the virus hasn’t disappeared by a long shot, and while we at the church still wish to proceed with the utmost caution, we believe the landscape has changed enough to warrant experiments with outdoor worship services. And so, beginning on the first Sunday in July (the 5th), at 10:00 a.m., we’ll begin leading services from the steps of the Meetinghouse. Here are some details:
- We’ll trace chalk circles on the lawn, spaced six feet apart. Individuals and/or families can spread a blanket within the circle, or bring a lawn chair in which to sit.
- People are also welcome to stand along the sidewalk.
- Masks are required.
- We’ll ask everybody to please respect social distancing guidelines. It will be tempting for some to hug or embrace those you haven’t seen for a while. That’s a temptation best resisted.
- Space will be limited, and so it will be available on a first come, first served basis.
- While services are open to all, we wish to urge everyone to exercise all appropriate caution and reasonable judgment about whether to attend.
- The services will continue to be filmed, and will be available online for those who cannot or should not be with us in person.
- In case of inclement weather, we’ll use our best judgment, and will communicate 24 hours in advance about how the following day’s service will occur (i.e., in person, or online only).
- Our hope is to meet outdoors for the remainder of the summer. But we’ll see how it all goes. As ever, we’ll be adaptive and flexible as different needs or requirements emerge. But to the ministers, the church staff, and our deacons, the time seems right to give this a try. It’ll be a delight to see those of you who can come.
One last thing: This is the time of year when I usually write about summer reading lists, and when I ask you to share some of your favorites with me. Here are a few I’m hoping to cover this year: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; David Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; and Peter Guralnick’s Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll. But I also hope to finish Toni Morrison’s collected essays, and to read or reread some of MLK’s collected sermons. A volume of Harry Emerson Fosdick’s sermons from the 1920s and 1930s is also waiting. But I’m giving myself license to stray from best-laid plans. As in so much these days … we’ll see. How about you?
Love to all of you in this new phase of the Time of Corona. I hope to see you soon.
- Reading: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo; How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi; Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson; The Man Who Recorded the World by John Szwed; The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette (reread).
- Watching: The Plot Against America (based on the novel by Philip Roth).
- Listening: Rough and Rowdy Ways, from Bob Dylan; the collected songs of Jimmy Reed, bluesman by way of Mississippi and Chicago.