This is going to be a short blog. I admit it—I am exhausted. I had already had a fuller than usual schedule in the last couple of weeks when the coronavirus pandemic went from something that was happening in China to something that will affect all of us.
In the midst of this I was at my cardiac rehab today, a twice weekly commitment I have made as I recover from the heart attack of nearly two months ago. Today’s theme was stress and we were talking about the particular stresses of being in ministry in this time. My rehab therapist asked me, “Do you think those stresses are going to go away over time?” She was sort of imaging ministry a little like the stock market. “Yes, it’s a tough market right now, but just give it time and it will rebound,” seemed to be the assumption behind her question.
I admitted to her that the stresses that most ministers feel isn’t going to change. It seems to come with the job. But then I added, “What can change is how I cope with it.” And then I told her about the 90-minute warm up that I have added into my day over the last thirteen years. While there is an occasional day that still gets away from me I don’t start my work day until I have run through my morning routine of a half hour gentle yoga, 10-15 minutes of spiritual reading and reflection and another 30-45 minutes of stream of consciousness prayer journaling.
I write this to you today because we appear to be entering a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Every day we make greater adjustments to the threat of the coronavirus. Events are being cancelled. Some states are closing universities. Major league sports are being postponed, altered and cancelled. And, if that wasn’t enough, the stock market has plunged dramatically in just two short weeks.
This is all very unnerving and unsettling.
We may be tempted to abandon our self-care in this time. We may be tempted to set aside our spiritual disciplines promising to get back to them when all of this passes. We might even consider it selfish to take time for prayer when action is what is called for.
My encouragement in this time is:
Don’t let yourself be tempted to abandon those disciplines that root you in God.
Don’t let those activities go that keep you grounded and centered.
Don’t forget to do the things that remind you of who you are on a daily basis.”
This is not the time to let those go. This is when we depend on them all the more.
If leave you with excerpts from Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades