By Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson, Director of Religious Education.
“It feels like we are on a spaceship.” Kids can be so wise. Adults describe this time of isolation as “surreal,” but my sci-fi heart agrees with the kids, it does feel like a spaceship. Some of us are on solo rockets, others on family-sized missions or expeditions into the unknown. As we move through our days in this brave new world, we surrounded by the familiar spaceship of home. We float near everything, yet we are isolated, only allowed to dock for essential supplies and using our screens to communicate from one ship to another. We are all on a journey that will forever change us. So of course, we are all asking that age-old kid question: Are we there yet? Or maybe: When will we get there?
When does the returning begin? When will we be liberated from this isolation and able to be together again? We do not get to know. It is hard to even make an educated guess.
Each time this question comes up I am reminded of a story by Unitarian Universalist minister Robert Fulghum that I am fond of called “The Chair Men.” In this story, two young college students decide to eat a chair for extra credit. Their professor’s instructions seem like good advice during a pandemic, they are: Do something unique and memorable—not dangerous or foolish. Unquestionably, this seems like an impossible and ridiculous thing to do yet they decide to attempt to eat a chair—responsibly. The details of their efforts are worth reading, but the reason this story resonates with me now is that it answers the question, how do we get through anything that is both ridiculous and necessary? How do we get through a pandemic?
I will tell you they did it with patience, perseverance, and help from their community. So, until we can return to being together, we can follow their example.
May we return again and again to rhythm and routine, find joy in perseverance, be kind to the cohabitants of our spaceship, share stories of our adventures on screens, and innovate what a beloved community can become.