Here is part two of the COVID-19 Reflections, submitted by folks from all over ECCT. Thank you to all who have submitted, here are just a few more. More to come next week! So please, keep them coming!
We asked folks from all over ECCT to submit reflections on their experiences during this time of quarantine, physical distancing, and uncertainty. We asked where you see God in this, what you are learning, and how you are caring for yourself in this time. We were overwhelmed with the response of essays, videos, poems, and more.
If you would like to submit your reflection (anyone writing music or painting during this time?), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask you to please include your name, parish/worshiping community, a photo to go with your reflection, and to keep your reflections to under 600 words.
St. John’s, Waterbury
I’ll start this off by saying I truly believe I contracted the virus in late December 2019, on through mid to late January 2020. I wasn’t physically devastated by it, but experienced all the symptoms on a lower end. Losing my taste buds would have helped, actually.
Through all of this, I have been working my profession as a funeral director & embalmer. Meeting with families who were not allowed to be near their loved ones in the final stages of death is truly heartbreaking. Transferring the remains of COVID-19 victims from place of death to the funeral home, the particular external disinfecting and care of the unembalmed bodies, has been unlike any experience I’ve had in my 40 + years of my profession.
But the families. It’s their feeling of helplessness in this that is truly daunting to me as a caregiver. In all of that, I have offered to make the deceased available for them to see them one last time. The overwhelming response is of them not wanting to expose myself or my co-workers any further than necessary. For that, I am in awe of the human spirit.
In the meantime, I miss the “in person” interaction with my fellow parishioners. Social media is helping, but “it ain’t like the real thing.” It helps to reach out with a phone call but I can’t wait to greet and embrace all of my friends and dispense with the six foot limit.
God bless us all.
Christ Church, Guilford
Where have you seen God during this time?
We see and hear God in the folks out banging pans, ringing bells, howling and singing in thanksgiving for emergency personnel, healthcare workers, and support staff.
What are you learning?
I try to concentrate on what I am able to do, on what I am thankful for, and how to find ways to be useful to others.
What are you doing to care for yourself.
We wait for sunny days to exploit for generous outdoor walks or hikes. We are grateful for a home in which to shelter, food to nourish, and a relationship that can bear the togetherness.
Mary Elizabeth Lang
Christ Episcopal Church, Norwich
The Church Comes Home During COVID-19
As a parishioner at Christ Episcopal Church, Norwich, I have not actually “been to church” since March 8. I have been feeling cut off not only from my parish, but also from the Church as a whole.
The first weeks of isolation were anxiety ridden, as my husband and I tried to figure out if we had everything we needed for our physical well-being—food, cleaning supplies, advice from and contact information for our doctors—basically everything everyone else was dealing with. Organizations to which I belong began meeting online, and more frequently than ever before.
On Sundays, I listened to the sermons our priest, Stacey Kohl had posted on our church website, and I tuned into services around the state and the country, including the Washington National Cathedral. Each time I would find myself crying when it came time for the consecration, because I no longer felt like a participant in the Eucharist. I was just an observer.
Of course, there have been benefits to the sudden isolation. As a Vestry member, I was assigned a group of parishioners to call weekly. These phone conversations have resulted in me making a new friend, a person I have only seen in a few parish-wide events, because he goes to a different service on Sunday morning. I’ve come to know the others on my list better than I had previously. Most days, I have also been doing Morning Prayer on Zoom with my brother in Cleveland. I thought I was settling in fairly well.
And then it was time for Easter Vigil, the holiest service of the year, in which the Exultet, the oldest known Christian chant, is sung, the service I never miss. But this year I was missing it. The lighting of the candles video that Stacey made and shared on the ECCT website was moving, but left me a little depressed. I had ordered a special candle to light on my own while I read the Easter Vigil service. The lighting of that candle brought with it a memory.
In April five years ago, my family traveled to Iceland to visit my son-in-law’s parents and extended family. We brought with us our 6-month-old granddaughter, Gígja, to be baptized in Reykjavík. The Baptism liturgy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland is very similar to ours, so similar that I knew what was going on even though the whole thing was in Icelandic.
But the events of the day seem quite different, because in Iceland they don’t bring the baby to the church to be baptized. They bring the church to the baby. Given the weather in Iceland, where even in April rain, sleet, or snow blow off the sea on a relentless wind, it makes sense to keep the baby at home.
When the priest came into the family’s home on Sunday afternoon, the house was full of borrowed chairs, church members, family, friends, and food. There was no altar, but on a small table there was a white linen, a glass bowl of water, a red rose, two red candles, and a baptismal candle. As one of the godparents, I got to light the red candles, from which the baptismal candle was lit during the service.
Now every time I light a candle in my house, I remember how five years ago in Iceland the whole Church came into my in-laws’ home to welcome its newest member. And that’s when the Church comes into my home also.
St. Mark’s, Mystic
A World on Lockdown
A virus does not discriminate.
an equal opportunity killer.
It is hungry.
So it devours,
the essence of logic.
It does not pause to consider
the consequences of its acts.
It leaves a swath,
to leave a swath.
A virus naturally senses
we are vulnerable,
we who are not used to
questioning. Instead, we are
raised, like sheep, to follow
the herd-worn way.
We are immune to thinking
about germs, the alien hosts
that throw parties
in the houses of our bodies:
‘Please, help yourselves to the chips.
Dip? A beer?
A Grolsh? You’ve got it,’
a virus so inviting,
hmm, one would think
it was up to something.
Yet, we don’t, until it is,
often, too late.
Armsmear, Hartford is a senior faith community of fifty residents who are women. How are we as a faith community dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The director of Armsmear, Melinda J Schoen, RN, MSN, LNHA speaks about the experience of Armsmear, “I would say that Armsmear is considered an essential business as we provide services and housing for seniors. We have those employees who positions allow them to work from home, assigned to work from home. The other half of our employees are working their usual schedules. We are following Governor Lamont’s health and safety requirements.”
As the chaplain at Armsmear I have been working from home for awhile now. The days that I would normally be at Armsmear to be with the residents are now spent keeping in touch with the residents with phone calls. I call the residents to see how they are doing during this time of quarantine. I listen to what is happening in their daily lives, their concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and other things that are on their minds. I reached out to the residents by creating Easter post cards. I thought this could be a new way of sharing the celebration of Jesus resurrection even if we could not physically worship as a community of faith. I continue to keep in touch with the residents of Armsmear via phone calls. I am looking forward to returning to Armsmear to lead worship. Co-lead spirituality groups with the activities director Linda Perry. We are forming a spiritual/religious book club that will give the opportunity literature that is about biblical characters or spiritual concepts about God. We keep working on ways to engaged residents. It has been awesome as we have gained input as to what the residents would like in their spiritual lives at Armsmear.
There is so much to look forward to even in the mists of our COVID-19 crisis.
Jo Ann Jaacks
St. Michael’s, Litchfield
I “see” God and talk to God every day, asking for his help in the smallest and most mundane things (What should I do next?). This is completely new for me – I used to only contact God for the really big things. But now that I am living alone, I am amazed and so comforted by our new relationship. (Although I still ask for St. Anthony’s help with lost keys because that’s his specialty and there are days when I myself feel lost.)
I have learned to be more patient and tolerant – when fencing on Facebook with others who disagree with me or don’t get my humor and the story I pitched does not get into print.
I am truly impressed with all the angels out there – human helpers who rise to the need to sew face masks, support local restaurants through a GoFundMe that allows them to pay for meals to be delivered by healthcare workers and first responders, solicit food for dogs and cats in rescue shelters that are teetering on the edge of survival, and provide necessities to people in need through various routes.
After being separated from my husband for over a year – he is in an Alzheimer’s wing at a local nursing home – I have learned to accept that he will not be recovering, and he will not be returning. I have not been able to visit since nursing homes are on lockdown, but I can send him newspapers and magazines and talk on the phone.
I cherish the friends and family who love and support me and I am open to making new friends because we all need some extra support. I am following all recommended protocol of wash hands, wear gloves and mask, and ten-foot distancing (I’m an over-achiever), scouring and sanitizing. I am grateful for my cat companion, especially since she sleeps in bed with me and it’s a proven verity that petting a pet can reduce your racing heartbeat or night terrors.
I do a daily regimen of exercise and walk outdoors on paths less traveled. I stock a small home bar and create a new cocktail every week, a remembrance of Happy Hour with friends, and looking forward to diving into the New Normal of my life at end-time of this contagion.
Thank you all for your submissions, please keep them coming. You can email them to email@example.com. More to come next week!
Stay Safe 💗