There are many things to miss these days, and we’ve all likely lamented them in one form or another. Before COVID, and before I became an editor at The Times, I was able to go to the Island Clergy luncheons held on Wednesdays. I miss going, and I bet the clergy miss getting together as well. I was always welcomed with hospitality (and a delicious lunch), and I really enjoyed listening to the group talk about their challenges and their joys. We try to stay connected via email these days, and asking them their thoughts on various topics has been a real treat for me over the years.
A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to them to ask what they looked forward to most once COVID is in the rearview mirror. Not surprisingly, they were wary to look too far ahead too soon.
I suppose what I look forward to most is getting together with friends and neighbors, without masks, indoors and outdoors. And I have to admit, listening to live music is at the top of my list. I’m wary too, though, of getting too excited too soon. We still don’t have widespread distribution of the vaccine, and the pandemic is still very much with us in our community.
I’ve gotten quite used to working from home in my little office space, carved out in a very crowded spare room. I share a workspace with our spare toilet paper and paper towel collection, as well as my husband’s closet and an elliptical exercise machine. It’s cozy. Thankfully, Times editor George Brennen gets the writing staff together every morning for a Zoom meeting, so I do at least see live coworkers. We’ve all made do with the environment we’re in these days. More than anything, I think this time has made me appreciate family and friends even more than usual, at a time when I rarely see them. I have faith (see how I slipped that in) that we’ll all be together in person again. Someday. Meanwhile, here are a few thoughts shared with me by some of the Island clergy.
The Rev. Chip Seadale, pastor of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, writes, “To be honest, my current thinking is that we’ll all be ‘putting the pandemic behind us’ in stages — which might take many months!
“That being said, my first hope and inclination is that, as a community of faith, this small part of the larger community of the beloved, we’ll all be looking for ways to GET TOGETHER and simply BE TOGETHER! I envision meals of fun and fellowship and music, to make up for some lost time, and to get not only reacquainted with each other, but to come to know each other on a more personal, spiritual level.
“None of us will be the same after having gone through this together. I pray that our long glimpse of what it’s like to be physically apart will inform our deepest desire to learn how truly to be together — present in the fullness of the moment — so that we may come to enjoy each other for our unique gifts, as well as for that which we all share: a deep and abiding hope for peacefulness, safety, kindness, forgiveness — and love.”
The Rev. Susan Waldrop wrote to me, “The first thing I’ll do is have a party and visit my grandchildren in Tennessee. I’ll also drop to my knees in gratitude — really, there now with the vaccine among us! What a Christmas gift! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.”
And the Rev. Ernest Belisle, pastor of Chilmark Community Church, had a guess as to why I hadn’t received many responses to the question I posed to clergy: “Thanks for your question. However, my humble opinion is that COVID-19 will not just go away one day, and so there will be the first or second item on a list for me to do. My suspicion is that this will be a gradual kind of return, with COVID hanging around for some time to come. Oh, how I wish I would awake one morning and COVID has all gone away so I can go out and do the first thing on my list! Wow, what a relief!
“So, I believe you have not gotten an answer because of the assumption behind your question.
Again, thanks and please do not give up on us! A blessed New Year’s to you.”
And so I will not give up on our Island clergy, on sending them questions that sometimes beg the obvious. What I hope is that they’ll come together again sooner rather than later, and that I can continue to share their thoughts and their news whenever they’d like me to. They’ve come together to help the community and one another, and that is good with or without a pandemic.
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