As we head into the holiday season, I hear from many of you how unprepared you feel. A serious case of “no, no, no” instead of “ho, ho, ho.” As we emerge from the pandemic (and like all pandemics we aren’t done quite yet) our nerves are a little more on edge, and change feels a little more scary than normal.
For months, psychologists have been warning us of the power of collective and personal exhaustion: in having to live through and move beyond all that this pandemic and our attending political dysfunction has left us. Dan Rather (the icon of newscasters) has pointed this out in a recent column of his blog “Steady.” Rather writes:
“Hanging over all of what would be the ‘normal’ course of life, if there is ever such a thing, are some pretty existential wellsprings of exhaustion.
Covid, and our response to it, is exhausting.
The threats to our democracy are exhausting.
The former president and his allies are exhausting.
Vitriol is exhausting.
Our climate crisis is exhausting.
False equivalence is exhausting.
Injustice is exhausting.
Systemic racism is exhausting.
Income inequality is exhausting.
The fact that this list could go on and on (and on and on) is exhausting.
Now adding to all of this is the fact that we live in a media landscape where there is no limit to the size of the wave of information you can surf down into the depths of despair. You can doom scroll for hours, finding reasons for why you should be on edge, should give up hope, should be outraged with no seeming outlet to fix the outrage, which is even more cause for outrage. And after hours of this, days on end, well, you probably can see where I’m going. It’s exhausting.” (https://steady.substack.com/)
So, given this reality, what can we do to move through the exhaustion, besides curling up in a ball and going to sleep? The first step is to admit we are exhausted. We are all doing the best we can and it’s ok to say “no.” If something doesn’t get done in our lives or in the life of our congregation, oh well. We will get to it later. I have been trying to say “no” — trying being the operative word here.
The other thing we can do is find ways to be renewed. Come to worship services in person or online. We have some great services coming up: our traditional Thanksgiving Service with cider and cornbread communion; a service led in part by our Youth Group; a musical play with our kids, “Jonah and the Whale;” and our Holiday Concert to name a few. Come and be renewed. It really does work.
We can also appreciate what is going well in our life, which for me is the true meaning of the Thanksgiving. We have family, friends and a congregation that is doing better than average. We are in the midst of renovating the sanctuary, giving our beloved building a much needed rejuvenation. We are reaching out to those in need like never before.