At funerals and graveside interments, I often speak to families about the importance of telling stories of their loved ones so that generations will know the stories, the wisdom, and all that enters into that which shapes our lives and the lives of those who follow. I wonder what stories we will tell of our time during the “great pandemic”. What were the struggles, the successes, the stories of heroic response, and so much more. Allyson Chui, a writer for the Washington Post, wonderfully captured a perspective on the experience of the pandemic among different generations. What follows are her musings. Continue reading
One of the late summer, early autumn rituals in Florida is hurricane preparedness. You might be thinking, “ah….isn’t that the middle of the peak of hurricane season?” Yes, it is. And to be clear there also has to be a projection of a hurricane possibly heading to your home area for any meaningful preparedness activities to be undertaken in earnest.. And then, even at that, the level of preparedness is related to the projected storm strength. “Only Cat 1? No problem, we’re good.” The fact that, especially in Gulf of Mexico waters, storms can rapidly increase to Cat 3 and 4 is acknowledged, “but that stuff hits Texas or Louisiana – maybe the Florida Panhandle, but that’s almost Alabama anyway.” Every year in late May the newspapers print a special insert on preparing for hurricane season; not sure how well it is read. I am not sure we Floridians are the most prepared for hurricane season and we know it’s coming. We’ll chat about it, we’ll tell stories about particular hurricanes, “that was a big one; blew roofs clean off homes. The whole neighborhood had the blue tarp covers on roofs for months. Yup, that was a big one.” But as the seasons change, Floridian’s conversations shift from hurricanes to the changing colors of … auto license plates during the annual snowbird invasion, congesting roads but filling state tax coffers with the tourist tax. We’re prepared for that. Continue reading
Irina Bock is a Silicon Valley-based designer known for creating the Google Android logo. During this pandemic period she started drawing cartoons that highlight how our lives have changed during the pandemic and shared them on Instagram. For those of us who don’t have that social channel, you can find a collection of some of her cartoons here. Here is a sample of one of the cartoon. Take a morning break and enjoy her insights and creativity.
Earlier today I posted “Choosing Hope“. From time to time folks post comments – and I do read them all but have learned long ago there is not time to respond to the comments on a regular basis. Today someone posted a comment that I thought was such an awesome message… “you know what,” I thought to myself, “I am going to make a post of it.” So from my good friend, Jim Rossman:
A liminal 9 months for sure! But, we live in hope. My prediction is that we will limp into a new normal, dragging many deniers with us, exactly on May 1, 2021. (I don’t have to be right — just confident.)
Between now and then, I will use whatever platform is available to me, as we count down the days and weeks to that benchmark, to encourage:
- hopeful preparation during Advent
- celebration of the Lord’s birth (our most inspiring symbol of HOPE)
- embrace the days of Lent as opportunity to open our hearts to God and make room for inspiration on the countless ways we can help our “fellow runners” limp to the finish line
- acceptance of our ultimate HOPE in the Resurrection of the Lord, and
- the final 26 day countdown to May 1 when an outpouring of Gratitude signals another “new beginning” —- where we come together as a Parish, a Church, a community and a nation with determination to recognize the unfair distribution of the suffering of this pandemic and to repair the fabric of our connectedness.
I can’t imagine just hunkering down in despair and taking a beating for 5 more months. Time to begin the countdown and the ground building for a better world post May 1.
[Wow, now that is a clarion call to all people of faith!]
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24) That is a key verse in today’s gospel. Part of the American idiom is having a cross to bear but I thing it most often points to the presence of a difficult responsibility or burden that someone must handle on their own or just tolerate as best as one can. But has the expression lost its sense of pointing to or working for the glory of God. Continue reading
Four months ago, Florida announced its first coronavirus cases. On Sunday, it broke the US record for the number of cases reported in one day — 15,300 with positivity levels almost 20%. Reuters noted that if Florida were a country, “it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases a day behind the United States, Brazil and India.” Continue reading
Here is an interesting link to an AP-wire story by Lolita Bador on how the pandemic is affection naval deployments: “The two U.S. warships in the Middle East weren’t aiming to break a record. But when the coronavirus made ship stops in foreign countries too risky, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the USS San Jacinto were ordered to keep moving and avoid all port visits. On Thursday, as they steamed through the North Arabian Sea, they notched their 161st consecutive day at sea, breaking the previous Navy record of 160 days. And they’re on pace to crush it, since they won’t hit land again until they get home to Virginia later this year.” You can find the entire article here.
President Trump recently announced “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.” While his powers to do so were questionable to say the least, I am glad that he considers houses of worship and their religious services essential. I would not disagree on that particular point, but would note that a large percentage of citizens do not attend weekend worship services at all plus another group of of households that participate irregularly. My Church has its own C&E Catholic faithful (that’s Christmas and Easter only – although to be fair, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday are also part of that particular mix). So, while I would agree on the essential nature of Mass and worship services, obviously they are not essential in the minds of all. Continue reading
2020 – what a year! When the year began all kinds of people made all kinds of prediction. It is almost like a cottage industry. One of my favorite was that there would be a meteor the size of Mt. Everest that would strike the earth on April 29th. I am pretty sure that did not happen. And besides we were ready. We already had a game plan, in fact… we made a movie out of it starring Bruce Willis. It has a wiki page! Spoiler alert: we live, Bruce dies. Who could have predicted that? Continue reading
I heard someone once refer to us as a “tourist church.” At one level that is certainly a compliment to the grandeur of the church structure, its architecture, and art. When you enter the church, there is no doubt that you are “in church.” At another level, given our proximity to the downtown hotels and the Port of Tampa, we have tourists and all manner of visitors – and you know what – they are all most welcome. If a “tourist church” means that we are known for welcoming the visitor, the stranger, the alien, and the tourist – that is a good thing. Continue reading