April 24, 2020
My Friends –
I write on this rainy Friday to wish you well, say that I’m thinking of you , and that I miss you all. As we approach the end of our sixth week of virtual church, social distance, school closure, and staying at home, I congratulate each and everyone of you for getting to this point. Well done!
Now might be a good time to check in with yourself and with those in your household and friends to see how you are emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. I have started to put resources for coping on the parish’s website, https://www.graceepiscopalmv.org/under the heading, “Health Resources”. The biggest intervention you can make if you are feeling anxious is to call or talk with someone you trust and talk honestly about how things are going.
If there is something you need or someone to run an errand for you (shop, pharmacy, post office, bank, etc.), please call the parish office at 508-693-0332.
By now you will have discovered that creating a structure to the day is helpful. Whatever yours may be, a little time spent visiting the websites of the museums, opera houses, churches, etc. of the world expands one’s horizons enormously. Realizing this morning that I could choose between the Vatican Museum, the Hermitage, the British Museum and others was liberating and made me feel like a citizen of the world.
I also want to share my thinking about re-opening, Lobster Rolls, and how long covid-19 will affect us. My opinion is that It is likely to be with us for the next two years and maybe a third, based on the reports from the epidemiologists that project 12-18 months before a vaccine will be developed.
We are extraordinarily fortunate to be on the Vineyard at this time. The measures put in place by the towns, Boards of Health, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital are working and have kept the number of positive cases well below what the rest of the commonwealth is experiencing.
The question everyone wants to know is how long will the staying at home and social distancing conditions continue. The short answer is that nobody knows. On the church side, we are likely to follow the direction of our Bishops and our town as to when it will be safe to open Grace Church for worship again. The current guidance from our Bishops is ‘not before May 31’, but we should be ready for the May 31 date to be extended further into the summer.
The Vestry is determined that Lobster Rolls will happen this summer when it is safe to do so. We will be following the guidance of Tisbury’s Board of Health, but we are not certain when or what this summer’s Lobster Rolls will look like.
The question ‘when can we go back to normal’ is out there as well. I don’t believe we will go back to how things were but that a new normal will emerge. My hope is that it will be a better normal, one that places a higher value on people than profit; one that provides essential services to everyone; one that is more just and more equal; one that prioritizes responsible stewardship of our planet.
I believe that we, together with others, can imagine and then shape the new normal based on our reality and our aspirations. Our first priority is to keep each other safe and to support each other. But in those moments of reflection, why not identify the qualities and values we most want for our post covid-19 world and begin to work together to make it happen.
It is wonderful to see so many of you at 10am on Sunday and to share worship with you online. Many thanks to all of you for your presence and for your ongoing support of Grace Church.
God bless you,
The Reverend Stephen Harding