Reflecting on Normal….

Pretty in Pink by sis97y
The sky has been amazing during our enforced time at home. The full moon this month is called the Pink Moon or the Egg Moon, the moon that presides over the first breath of spring. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by a new friend sis92y. This photo reminds me of why we first moved to Fauquier county, over 25 years ago. My husband and I started a family here, and I fondly recall walking my newborn daughter in the stroller in our lovely neighborhood. It seems like a distant memory of a time and place that may never be again, a more simple and innocent time. I wonder where this pandemic will lead – what will the new normal be?

Unlike my introverted friends, I am finding staying at home more and more difficult. I have worked from home for a number of years, so you would think this current situation isn’t much different. Yet an extrovert who works from home also adds plenty of social interaction into their routine. I practice yoga at a local studio most weekdays. On Wednesdays there is the prayer shawl meeting, then Thursday mornings there is chapel with breakfast and discussion. You get the idea – if I have to work alone, I can surely find a way to make time for social interaction. In my mind I fully understand the need for social distancing. In my heart it feels like I am wearing shoes at least two sizes too small.

I think things out by interacting with others. Talking brings matters into focus, helps sift the wheat from the chaff. Alone I find myself down rabbit holes like Alice in Wonderland, playing chess with life and getting too far ahead of myself. What will childhood be like for my grandchildren, as yet unborn? Will their restrictions cost more than the risks they seek to avoid? Will freedoms I took for granted become unimaginable to them? Of course the short answer is none of us know what lies ahead or even when to expect this current lockdown to subside. If that short-term result eludes us, what good is there in pondering a distant future that may never be realized?

Then I go back to this mysterious moon, this not so simple reflection of the sun, changing shape and size month to month, season to season. This moon reflects the ever constant sun, changing aspect even as the sun abides. If the moon changes without effort, why am I making this so difficult? Rather than focusing on what is, or was, or will be, I must go back to the basis of what works – being intentional about social interaction. I need to use technology to do what I cannot do in person right now.

Make time today to embrace technology to bridge the gap. Read bedtime stories to the little ones over video chat. Host a virtual dinner party. Celebrate birthdays or an anniversary with a dance party online. Let those you love know what they mean to you, speaking from the depths of your heart.

Allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind, rather than the latest news. Pray for one another, knowing when we pray, we are only a heartbeat away. Pray for more than just protection; pray for blessings that break through the darkness and uncertainty. Pray for the divine to permeate the days and nights ahead. Most of all, pray for the new normal, a normal where each of us may see Christ in everyone that we encounter, rather than just those we hold dear.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Photo entitled ‘Pretty in Pink’ by sis92y©2020, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more of her work, go to https://www.deviantart.com/sis92y/gallery

Reflecting on Trespasses….

Viral Encroachment by Kira Skala
Abstract art can be tough for me. I tend to use my head over my heart, so the images are not easy to understand or rationalize. Yet this abstract watercolor by my dear friend Kira hit home at first glance. My heart grieves for the world we have left behind as this virus has encircled the globe. My head cannot begin to wrap around what we are going through or where we will end up. Kira calls her work ‘Viral Encroachment’ – a fit title to explain how this tiny organism has taken hold of our daily lives. Something we cannot see has changed everything we can see. An unseen force has taken over, very slowly then all at once. I pondered the sort of things that work that way, piling up over time until the burden is intolerable. Each incident is not that big of a deal until you get to the last straw that tips you over the edge.

We pray about those little indiscretions every Sunday as part of the service. In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Other translations substitute debt or sin for trespass, but what are we really talking about? It was time to go back to the original text in Greek. It was time to ask our parish priest, Pete. In his words:

The Greek word is paraptoma: para = around or alongside; ptoma = slip, trip, or fall. Literally, it means to fall alongside of or more simply, to fall away from. Idiomatically, though, it gets tricky, especially for translators. It’s a verb, action, trying hard to be a noun, thing. Thus we get something like “slips” or “lapses.” For once, the King James translators weren’t that far off the mark when they came up with “debts,” in the sense of things worthy of grudges. Sadly, using the word “sin” really defeats the purpose, as it doesn’t look like what we think Jesus was trying to convey, but there it is.

The really interesting thing, at least to me, is that trespassing implies a moving forward into forbidden territory, whereas paraptoma suggests an accidental falling away from the good. It’s almost as if the translation is opposite Jesus’ intent: a paraptoma is, for all intents and purposes, an accident; a trespass is an intended wrongful act. – Reverend Doctor Peter R. Gustin

This virus cannot move on its own – people carry it from place to place, from person to person. You are contagious once you contract the virus, but symptoms may take a week or more to appear. Surfaces can hold the virus and be picked up by another person touching an affected area. All of this sounds a lot more like a series of little accidents, careless indiscretions, thoughtless actions. Each incident doesn’t seem like much but over time we end up with more than we could begin to imagine possible. It is easy to succumb to fear, to look for someone to blame. Yet are we really angry at any single individual, or are we simply furious at the whole situation?

Make time today to hold open space for grace. Consider each little act more like an accident. Forgive as you wish to be forgiven. Take precautions to safeguard yourself and others out of love instead of fear. Look for new ways to socially connect in the current climate of social distancing. Take time to check in with one another, especially folks we would normally see on a regular basis. Most of all, let each of us lean on God’s strength rather than our own. As Brother Lawrence would say ‘My only chance of success is with you, Lord, for alone I shall surely fail’.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Greek origin of ‘trepasses’, reflection by the Reverend Doctor Peter R. Gustin

Watercolor entitled ‘Viral Encroachment’ by Kira Skala©2020, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

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