March 17: Be Still My Soul

I’ve noticed already that some people are struggling with the isolation of enforced physical distancing, and wondering about what the world, and their world in particular, will be like after this outbreak is behind us.  There is worry about what life will look like, will their favorite/needed activities still be here, and I don’t blame them for worrying about this, for our regular swim sessions, our favorite yoga instructor, the neighborhood restaurant that is like a second home and they know us by name…all these are important to us as ways in which we define ourselves and socialize in the world.

Yesterday, when I heard for the first time a newscaster predicting that everyday life would be changed by this outbreak, my first thought was — hey, it is way too early for such fear-based predictions (and also, what an issue of white privilege this could be considered, but that is a topic for another day).  But I also appreciate that uncertainty can lead us to such thoughts.  The uncertainties we face today — how long will we have to cancel worship services, or stay 6 feet apart from one another, or fear just going to the grocery store, and for most of us the greatest uncertainty (not getting the virus, but passing it on to someone more vulnerable than us)  — these uncertainties may be one of the most difficult aspects of this outbreak.  And so we go to a dark place — things will never be the same — it is natural. It is wise to focus on what we have control over — what we say and do today — but it is natural that we get distracted by what we have little control over right now — what the world will look like on the other side.  Perhaps this is a good time to remember “the Serenity Prayer,” a spiritual blessing for everyone, not just twelve step groups:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I offer something else today as an aid, of sorts, to help us to center ourselves in the spirit of what is there for us today — God’s love, and God’s presence, no matter how physically isolated we may feel today, and no matter what may come in all our tomorrows.  Below are the words of the hymn “Be Still, My Soul” for us to meditate on today, and a link to an instrumental version .  I hope it blesses you and provide you solace and calmness today.

Peace and blessings, Pastor Leslie

Be Still, My Soul (verses 1&2; words by Katharina von Schlegel, translation by Jane Laurie Borthwick, from The New Century Hymnal; music by Jean Sibelius)

Be still, my soul: for God is on your side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to your God to order and provide; in every change God faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: your best eternal friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: for God will undertake to guide in future days as in the past. Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be clear at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know how Jesus’ power ruled them long ago.

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