Midweek Meditation 8

Perhaps you remember the old Peter and Gordon tune:

“Please lock me away, and don’t allow the day
here inside where I hide with my loneliness.
I don’t care what they say I won’t stay in a world without love.”

Well, Covid-19 has taken its shot at doing that; but not fully successfully. 
Most of us can tell stories of how caring still happens during lockdown days. 

Some of us have discovered how that happens in new ways,
have made some new friends, or deepened former acquaintances,
or become more deeply bonded with loved ones.

But it hasn’t been easy either:  keeping social distance,
refraining from touch unless we’re in a safe space at home,
washing hands after every public outing,
scrubbing surfaces at home and in our vehicles. 
Those who are still going to work are constantly sanitizing their workplace.    
And then, wearing masks in public.  Who can tell us apart from bank-robbers?

It won’t end all that soon. 
We may all be taking health precautions for a long while yet. 
Just because a vaccine may  be found and available,
just because we can assemble in larger groups again,
doesn’t mean everyone will feel safe from infection.

I suppose we might be wise to start practising now:
learning to bow respectfully when we greet one another
instead of shaking hands; 
training our eyes and smiles to say “Hello” in genuine ways
that aren’t “suggestive” or threatening; 
if we dare to offer hugs, always asking for permission, 
or maybe we will just gently pelt one another with water balloons. 
I don’t know what people will do differently
in cultures where kissing has been a common way of greeting.

As the Covid-19 curve flattens, as the risks dissipate,
as more green lights are given for social inter-actions again,
we will re-emerge into a world where love still exists. 
But it will be awkward and weird for a while as we adjust
and pass through times of transition. 
The manners and ways in which we express affection
and exchange greetings will be different,
out of necessity, out of respect.  But that too is love.
Yet somehow, the embrace of God’s love will be a constant for everyone.

Midweek Meditation, April 1

Self-Care and Stress Relief – Rev. Harry Disher

Our cleaning lady phoned last week.  She told us that she has chosen to self-isolate and keep social distance, so she would not be coming around.  She then gave us instructions on what to do.

This is just one sample of hundreds, perhaps thousands of light-hearted email messages that can help us find relief, even some sanity, during these bizarre and troubling times. The stressors are real and so self-care and stress management are important as we practice self-isolation and social distancing.  Barb Duffin has sent out some tips on practising mindfulness.  Others have circulated ponderings and helpful thoughts they have received from friends or family members.  If you have access to the Internet there are multiple free online meditations, such as those hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.

Here are a few other options you might find useful.

Dancing with Fear

In unsettling and uncertain times such as the one we are now caught up in, just be aware that our brains are hard-wired to sense and react to danger, that having fear and anxiety is normal.  Stress can compound our response by triggering only negative reactions and increasing felt tension.   By remembering that our brains are wired to become defensive, we can free ourselves from the limited perceptions and open ourselves to more balanced responses.  Take some deep breathes.  Recognize any fear or anxiety that rises to our consciousness in a non-judgmental way.  Accept them as normal thought patterns without getting overwhelmed or carried away by them.

Mindful Hand-Washing

  • Stand before the sink and set an intention the bring your full attention to washing your hands.
  • Engage all your senses.  Notice the colours of the faucets, sink, countertop.  Feel the smoothness of the faucet and taps as you turn on the water.  Feel your feet connected to the floor. Relish the feel of running water on yours hands and the scent of the soap.  Take time to bathe each finger, your palms, the backs of your hands, your wrists.  Enjoy it as an immersion experience.
  • When you have finished, turn the tap off slowly, towel dry slowly with care.  Take a deep breath.  Offer gratitude.

Responding to the News

Our daily news about this pandemic is constantly fluctuating and updating.  News is like that.  We are receiving a barrage of various triggers.  There is a difference between reacting and responding.  Again, under stress, there is a tendency to shift into auto-pilot and lock into the fear gear with a knee-jerk reaction.  Responding instead of reacting creates gap space and shifts the focus to the front of our brains where we can be more reflective. 

 So if we are watching to or listening to the news; get comfortable and grounded where you sit.  Feet on floor.  Breathe.  Become aware of your body, where it meets the chair, etc.  As you listen to the broadcast, again create a little gap (two seconds is often enough) where you notice what emotions you are experiencing.  Own them.  Consider, what do I need to help me with this?  What might be a prayer you would offer;  e.g,,“God, help settle me down”;  “God,  be with those who are suffering” ….?  Who can you share your feeling with in a non knee-jerk way?

It is also okay to give yourself a break from tuning into the news.  And … if you do, be choosy.  Select reliable sources like World Health Organization or Health Canada.  Compare what they say with what the TV and radio media are offering up.

God be with us all during these times.

Grief and Stress Support Team

I am grateful three people from our Maple Grove United Church family have agreed to share with me in offering support and a listening ear to anyone in our community of faith who is experiencing some difficulty with recent grief and loss, or the stressors of self-isolation and social distancing during this health-endangering pandemic. If you feel a need for counsel and conversation here are our names and contact information.:
– Rev. Kerry Stover He will call if you contact him.
– Ilana Green  She will call you if you contact her.  
– Brenda Lewis, (905) 845-7769
– Dora-Lee Pope She will call you if you contact her.
There are also personal helplines available to you in the Halton Region:

Halton Distress Centre, Oakville: (905)8494541

Halton’s COAST crisis line is 1-877-825-9011. It is answered by a COAST mental health crisis worker 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

Lighthouse for Grieving Children: (905) 337-2333

If you are in contact with someone in our congregation who does not have Internet or online access, please feel free to pass on this notice to them.

Message From Our Pastor


Here is a brief update to let you know that members of our congregational Caring Team have agreed to offer daily reassurance and check-in phone calls to some of our members who live alone and will be experiencing more isolation than usual during the next few weeks.

Also, while it is indeed recommended that all of us practice social distancing and self-isolation to endeavour to slow and reduce the curve of this pandemic, some may choose (as others elsewhere have done who may or may not have any church connection) to offer to be available and of help to neighbours we know who have mobility issues, or just more difficulty carrying on with some of the essentials of life. Some of us might choose to help them with getting groceries, banking, picking up supplies and medications at the drug store, walking dogs, etc. I trust we will exercise our own best judgement in that regard as to whether or not we live somewhat beyond the bounds of self-isolation.

Take Good Care,

Offerings and Mission During the Pandemic Crisis

During this time of disruption in our lives, the ministry and mission of Maple Grove United is creating ways and means of still carrying on being supportive and encouraging. Worship services are being offered online; reassurance and check-in phone calls to some of our more isolated members are being offered.  A crisis counselling team is in place. Our mission commitments are being honoured. Faith and love are in action to support and sustain lives.

Your ongoing financial support during this time is appreciated.  There are at least three ways in which you can offer that very important support to the church’s work and support to our community even though we won’t be physically present at Sunday services while the church is closed temporarily:

1.     Enrolling in PAR (pre-authorized remittance for automatic payment);

2.     Forwarding your offerings by cheque to the church office.  Even though we are closed, we are still opening the mail.

3.     Electronically sending your offering by accessing the Maple Grove Donate button, bottom right of the page on the church’s website.

MGUC has continued its work and spiritual community through many years and changing times.  During the present crisis it is important that all of us stand by the church’s work with our offerings.

Thank you,
Cameron Serles, Chair of Stewardship
Gordon Penley, Treasurer

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