March is a busy on the shores of the Madawaska River as the ice melts in our bay. From the windows of our living room, you can see eagles soar and otters fish. Almost every day, we see the eagles steal fish from the otters. Their sleek and curved bodies dive into holes in the ice and seem to have no problem catching their food. From my human vantage point, it almost feels like they are resigned to sharing their bounty with the eagles. For many years we’ve witnessed this exchange. We even have a photograph of the two of them together that’s probably worthy of National Geographic.
Even though we’ve lived here for many years, somehow this exchange seems more poignant and I’m observing it in a new way. I’ve been on our property since Monday, March 16, with occasional walks down Calabogie Road. Time seems to have slowed down. When I take my granddaughter out for a walk, I stand on the shoreline and pause and really look. There is no need to rush during this self-isolation time. This is a good time to connect with the earth and listen for the heartbeat of God.
For others, however, like our medical professionals, our first responders, our front-line workers in grocery stores, our government workers…and the list goes on…..rushing is the new normal as life continues full speed ahead, and is even frantic and scary.
How can we reconcile these two contrasting scenarios?
For those who are isolated from public life at this time, I suggest we be mindful of those front-line workers who must remain in the public. Pray for them. Assist them by offering emotional support and/or by offering personal support (make sure all self-distancing protocols are followed). Follow the self-isolating suggestions being made by reputable organizations like the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, or the World Health Organization.
I know we have front-line workers in our congregation, our families and our community. For their service, we are grateful.
Part of my work this week includes preparing a short worship service to be broadcast on Facebook this Sunday. Some of you watched the worship service last Sunday prepared by Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, on their Facebook page. My plan was to join my husband, the Rev. James Murray, in leading the service at the church in Renfrew. However, the General Secretary of the United Church of Canada has made a ruling that no one is to enter church buildings except the custodian or one person who is designated to check on the physical structure.
So we are planning to do something we’ve never done: broadcast a short worship service on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. from our home. This should be adventure. It will be on the Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church Facebook page or you can simply find it by clicking the following link: https://www.facebook.com/Trinity-St-Andrews-United-Church-248786075142932/.
On Sunday, we’ll hear the story of the dry bones being brought back to life. It’s an ancient story that illuminates our own time and place. How do we rise again from the consequences of the corona virus? Spoiler alert: it has something to do with God’s breath.
Please stay safe and know that God’s spirit surrounds all of us with love, compassion, fortitude and patience. Be blessed and be a blessing.
In the friendship and love of Christ,
Rev. Dr. Christine Johnson