In the Interim – April 2020 by Rev. Marlene Walker

Dear Beloveds,

It’s a bit mind boggling that we have now been in this uncharted territory for nearly a month and we will be here for at least another month and most likely more.

There is so much I want to say to you about this time we find ourselves in. In the words of my wise teacher Brene Brown,

“We don’t know how to do this. And by this I mean, we don’t know how to social distance and stay sane, we don’t know how to stay socially connected but far apart. We are wired to connect with others, it’s what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

We don’t know what to tell our kids. We’re anxious, we’re uncertain, we are a lot of us afraid. And let me tell you this for sure, and I know this from my life, I know this, from again, from 20 years of research, and 400,000 pieces of data. If you don’t name what you’re feeling, if you don’t own the feelings, and feel them, they will eat you alive.”

In my many years of work as an interim and transitional minister I have helped many a congregation journey through uncharted times between ministries. And what I know is that these times, these liminal times, when we don’t know what happens next are hard and unsettling. And boy are we in such a time now, as we practice physical distancing and social connection, separated from loved ones and circles of care and support.

And we need those times of connection to help when we do feel scared and uncertain. Those are real feelings and we need to acknowledge them. If you hit a rough spot please reach out, call me anytime, and know that I too have those moments and when I do I reach out to friends and colleagues to help me reground. We have to find all the ways to stay connected. We are in this together.

We’ve been doing a lot of that at OBUUC as we have quickly shifted to online worship and holding multiple times for community connection via Zoom and on our FB page. It has been so wonderful to see all your faces and hear your voices. This is where I need to lift up the work of the wonderful staff I am blessed to work with, including our ministerial intern Omega. They have been working double time these past three weeks to get all of this up and running, all while we are all dealing with our families, our fears and uncertainties. I could not be doing what I am doing without them. And we are all learning new things and new ways to stay connected each and every day. Please express your appreciation to them, they are rock stars. Most importantly please be abundantly kind and practice forbearance when we don’t get it exactly right, or as quickly as we all would like. These are not normal times. We are doing the best we can.

And you all have a role in keeping the connections going. Attend the Zoom worship and check in times as you are able, and even more so reach out to each other, send emails, post in the FB group, pick up the phone and call and check in on people you miss. We have set up a phone tree for our most isolated members and those without email or internet access, thank you to those who volunteered to make those calls.

One other thing we have done to keep us all connected is to change the format of the Unifier for the time being, shifting it from mostly about announcing events, to a focus on care and support. There will be some practical announcements but for the most part that is what we will be using the weekly email for.

When I hit those moments of anxiety and fear I reach for those I care about and also for words that give me strength, courage and hope. For me these words by Wendell Berry often are what come flooding into my mind and heart. May they do the same for you.

Know that I love you my Beloveds and never forget that I am here with you, we are in this together, we will get through this together, and we will come out the other side together.