We Are Not Alone: Bent but not broken

During this time of isolation, we are sharing prayers, poems, inspirational music, videos and quotes that uplift our spirits in a special email newsletter each Tuesday. Here is an excerpt from our March 30 edition.

Bent But Not Broken: Reflections on the one year anniversary of Covid

We recently passed the one year mark since the WHO officially declared covid-19 a pandemic. To mark the anniversary, Paul Hutchison and Don Parsons reflect on the past 12 months for them personally and for our congregation.

Reflection by Paul Hutchison
“How do you measure a year?” is the question from the Seasons of Love in the Musical RENT. At the first anniversary of the initial death in Toronto (on the 21st), it is a good question. In the lyrics, the answers seem easy:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure? Measure a year?
I have counted those minutes, and cups of coffee, but also the daylights, walks, the moments of stillness to breathe and reflect.

It has not been easy – the tech learning alone has been more than enough. The inability to connect with each of you, face to face, in our moments of worship has been excruciating. No response to lines, I think are funny, no watching you change your seated position if I made you think, no smiles or tears visible when we have talked through some of our faith questions has been hard too. The story of faith and challenge makes its way to you in your home as we isolate together.

Our guest speaker for Lent 4, Bernadette Arthur, said, “Exercising faith amid adversity is not an absurdity. It is, indeed, the definition of faith.”

May your faith guide, challenge and inspire you.

Reflection by Don Parsons
Was it only twelve months ago that we were forced into pandemic lock-down? 

This has been a year of poignant challenges, leaving many in our church family feeling isolated and alone.  It seems like it has been a long time since hugs have been freely shared, or we have actually seen the smile that is hidden behind a mask. 

My heart has ached especially for families who have had to cope with the death of a loved one without the gift of an unrestricted in-person service with friends and family.  How often this year I have stood with no more than ten others, spaced two meters apart in the cemetery, having to resist the urge to move close to grieving family members and offer comfort by way of touch or embrace.  Reassuring others of my caring, while masked and from a distance, has felt so inadequate and incomplete to me.  But it is a Covid reality that has been re-enacted many times this year.

And yet there have also been moments of beautiful caring in these recent months, because the quotient of our caring has been significant.  We have valued the check-in telephone calls from ESG Ambassadors, and the delivery of cards and plants and homemade goodies to remind our friends that they are being thought of, and enfolded in our caring prayer.

The weekly “We Are Not Alone” reflections, the “Community of Care” Wednesday morning online gatherings, and the uninterrupted ministry of worship — Sunday morning, Evensong reflective services, and LoveALIVE Dinner Church — have become a life-giving intravenous for the soul.  Many have gone out of their way to express their appreciation for these gifts of music, and prayer, and presence — nuggets of beauty that have nourished and sustained us.

With the ministry of vaccination becoming a reality, we are grateful that the heaviness of this past year is now giving way to cautious optimism and hope.  This interesting ride continues, and I am grateful that we can be companions for each other as we journey together.

Read the whole newsletter here.

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