Managing Covid-19 in today’s world

We are experiencing unprecedented stress and loss at this time with no end in sight. Not knowing what will happen next or worrying whether we or our family members might get sick, is likely to create anxiety and fear. We must find new ways to manage stress and learn how to live in the moment. We must adapt our day-to-day routines to include social distancing, working remotely, and limiting our contact with those we love. This sense of isolation can take a toll on our emotional health and well-being. The following are a few suggestions to consider as you create your strategy to manage what feels unmanageable.

Create New Routines

  • Try to get out of bed at the same time each day
  • Plan your day in “chunks” of time (consider categories such as meals, work, study, exercise, housework, and connecting online with friends and family)
  • Plan for repeating weekday and weekend routines
  • Use your calendar to schedule tasks and activities
  • Create to-do lists
  • Shower and get dressed every day
  • Build rewards into each day
  • Become comfortable wearing a mask in public

Stay Connected

  • Improve your technology skills to help you stay in touch with others
  • Create Zoom or Google groups with friends and family
  • Share meals and celebrations via Zoom or Google
  • Play games
  • Check in regularly with those you love and with those you are the most concerned about
  • Consider outdoor activities such as going to a park, hiking, or gardening (keep proper social distancing in mind)

Self-Care

  • Practice increased hygiene, especially washing hands with soap
  • Eat balanced and nutritious meals (increase fruits and veggies)
  • Observe your use of alcohol
  • Listen to music and add to your playlist
  • Pull out the pile of books you have always wanted to read
  • Read aloud to children via Zoom
  • Watch movies and TV shows from the genres you find entertaining. For example, list all of your favorite movies and have a Movie Night with popcorn
  • Work on jigsaw puzzles
  • Learn to cook new dishes; create dinner theme nights
  • Try your hand at baking
  • Exercise both indoors and outdoors
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings, including lists of wishes and hopes for the future
  • Try an online relaxation or meditation app such as Headspace
  • Look at the things that are good in your life

Limit Media Exposure

  • Stick to reliable sources for information about COVID-19, such as the WHO, CDC, or local government agencies
  • Limit the amount of time you interact with the news each day
  • Consider restricting your news coverage to a regularly scheduled hour of the day
  • Only post or forward information from reliable sources
  • Remember that information changes daily, so do not overrespond to today’s update

Self-Awareness

  • Observe sleep habits; create going-to-bed routines
  • Stop all screens 60 minutes before starting your going-to-bed routine
  • Examine your thinking and the presence of anxiety and stress. Ask for support if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Discuss worries and concerns with those you trust, including your therapist or spiritual leader
  • Remind yourself of your strengths and of all the things you have been through in your life. Also remind yourself that you were able to get to the other side
  • Decide to be the best you post-pandemic

*Referenced in part from Psychosocial Oncology, DFCI

FPL Council of Committees Meeting: April 2020

April 29, 2020

Attendees: R.L. Smith, Tucker Smith, Gina Halsted, Kim Buell, Larry Buell, Sarah Andrysiak, Joan Mansfield, Gary Taylor, Janet Boynton, Mary Helen Lorenz, Mimsy Beckwith, Stephen Brand, Dwight Gertz, Terry Green, Rosemary Lloyd, Deanna Laferriere, Peter Sugar, Ralph Smith, Nancy Henderson, Jennie Morris, Barbara Sampson, Margit Griffith, Jenny Rankin, Sarah Klockowski

The Council of Committees is a gathering of people who are ‘Chairs’ of major church working groups.  Some of these are the YPC, Welcoming, Outreach, Finance, Facilities, Personnel, Generous Giving among others. The aim of this group is to gather 3-4 times each year to share thoughts about the state of First Parish. While the main purpose is to facilitate communication about the life of the church, this group extends the governance functioning and oversight of the parish by raising issues that should receive greater attention.

At this meeting three questions were presented for discussion.

  1. How are we (First Parish/Lincoln community/ourselves) doing? What is going well?

A general feeling of appreciation was expressed to the Staff and Deacons for their creativity with online worship. It is comforting to scroll through names of attendees and it feels centering to be connected on a Sunday morning. Many people who were not attending pre-COVID or who have moved away are now attending Zoom services. Virtual Coffee Hour is going particularly well. The group, also, expressed their gratitude for the Ladies’ Tea, Music from the familiar Sanctuary, and the work of committees that is keeping the Parish business in order.

Dr. Stephen Brand reflected on the impact of the crisis on those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, especially those that are understaffed and underfunded. Over one half of COVID-related deaths in MA have occurred in assisted living facilities. Discussion ensued about how the church might respond to this need. Suggestions included:

  • Expanding the successful phone tree to include those in nursing homes
  • Collecting gently used laptops and iPads for those living in isolation without means of tuning in to Zoom programs
  • Writing letters and postcards to nursing home residents.

Terry Green and others expressed concern for Lincoln youth, particularly our upcoming graduates. Dwindling of school year, lack of closure and commemoration, etc. What resources can First Parish offer parents looking for things to do with children at home? Jenny mentioned other vulnerable groups such as LGBTQ youth, young adults who have recently moved, etc.

Jennie Morris noted that she has seen visitors to our Zoom worship services and is wondering about how the Welcoming Committee and FPL in general can welcome visitors in a virtual forum. Larry Buell reported that the Easter Offering to be distributed to local charities was among the largest in recent history.

 If you have the ability to help with any of the above, Sarah Klockowski can be your first line of further information and volunteering.

  • What would we like to see First Parish do for summer activities/services?

The strong consensus of the group was to have some kind of Sunday Service continue throughout the summer. The Deacons are in the planning stages of this worship activity and they are open to creative ideas and help. Breakout rooms have been a successful vehicle for informal interaction and a livestream of the church has been comforting to some. A new initiative called “The Gathering Project” is in the planning stages, more Forest Bathing trips and outdoor worship services were proposed as ways to connect over the summer. Deanna Laferriere is the point person for offering ideas and help with delivery.

  • What work do we want to do internally this summer given the decision to extend the transition period?

This was the question that generated the greatest energy. The principal issues remaining for the Transition discussion, prior to the selection of a new Settled Minister, have to do with: Mission, Important Relationships in the Community, and Vision for the Future. In particular questions about: “Who is our neighbor?”, “What do we as a church stand for?”, “Why do we do church?” and “How has this pandemic influenced our future?”

A good number of points were made about how to move our priorities from discussion and occasional action to establishing roots and relationships with community partners and important issues like race, income inequality and poverty. There are important issues to clarify regarding the ‘right size’ of the congregation, what we can afford in the way of resources and what our financial responsibility to the church should be. Several felt that clarity about these issues of mission, vision and values will be important factors in securing the right Settled Minister and engaging more members.

Jenny reminded us that “people are watching us” to see where First Parish puts its feet and its money during the COVID pandemic. This is an historic opportunity to define the values of First Parish.

Contributions to this discussion should go to RL Smith and Gina Halstead who chair the Transition Team.

Nick Covino, for the Parish Committee

Blessing for Frontline Workers

Rev. Jenny Rankin

Blessed are you, Breath of Life
Thou in whom we live and move and have our being
Be with us now as we pause—as we honor—as we give thanks
For all those who are working so hard on our behalf.
 
Often putting their own bodies on the line,
We know they worry about the health of their own families;
We know they are weary and getting more so.
 
Some deal with death on a daily basis
Others encounter pain, anxiety and fear in those they meet
They try to bring comfort and calm; they try to bring healing,
Even as they go home to families that need them.
 
Blessed are the frontline workers
Who clean cook, carry
Sort, stock, deliver
Respond, drive, take, help
Blessed are those who work in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, intensive care units.
 
Blessed are those who listen, look, diagnose, treat,
Who suit up in gear to attend at the bedside
And then do it again, and again, and again
 
Blessed are those who connect
Who accompany
So that person, there in the bed, anonymous to many but dear to one of us
So that person, knows they are not alone,  knows there is someone just there, on the other side of the glass, another human heart that beats, that cares, that walks with.
 
Blessed are those who abide with us through all the watches of the night
Waiting for pain to lift,
Fear to dissipate,
First light of morning to come.
 
Blessed are you, Breath of Life
Be with those dear to us
And with those we do not know.
 
Give them the strength they need to make it through another day
The endurance that will carry them
And the sure strong knowledge that Love walks with them
Our love and Your Love
 
Blessed are you Breath of Life
Thou in whom we live and move and have our being.
Amen.

Mother’s Day Pop up Drive for Communities in Need

Dan and Janet Boynton making our first delivery on May 11th

April 30 – May 18, 2020
 
Many of us who are safely self-isolating in our homes in Lincoln have been wondering how we can help others who were already suffering even before the Covid-era descended over the land.  We know that communities of color as well as the homeless have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and in response, The First Parish Anti-Racism Task Force is organizing an immediate, concrete way we can support those in need who find themselves in even more desperate circumstances than they were only two months ago.
 
HOW: We invite all in our community to participate in a Mother’s Day Pop Up Drive to benefit both children in Bay Cove Human Service’s Early Intervention program in Boston and their adult clients at the CASPAR Homeless Shelter in Cambridge.
 
WHEN: Thursday, April 30th, through Monday, May 18th
 
WHERE: Please drop off goods in the plastic bins on the Stearns Room porch of the Historic Church on Bedford Road (across from the Lincoln Library) or, for a pick-up at your home, contact Mary Jo Veling at:
veling1@hotmail.com

If you are donating Gift Cards, please don’t leave in the bins.  Call or email Mary Jo Veiling (veling1@hotmail.com, 781-259-8588); she’s glad to pick them up for safe keeping.

WHAT: All donations must be new.
Many items can be purchased at local grocery or drug stores.
We have also provided online sources, such as Costco, Amazon and Target (CLICK HERE) for those who are staying at home.
 
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
Diapers in sizes 4 and 5
Diaper wipes
Stop and Shop gift cards for the moms
 
HOMELESS SHELTER
NEW Men’s and Women’s Clothing:
 (Sizes: Men’s: L, XL, XXL; Women: L, XL)
Underwear
Tee Shirts
Sweatshirts
Socks
Flip Flops for showers
 
Personal care:
Sanitary pads and tampons
Shampoo, soap and deodorant in small containers (travel size)
Toiletries in small sizes
 
Food:
Snacks, power bars
Tea bags (regular and herbal)
Sugar-free drink mix (to be added to water)
 
WHY:  Because we are all connected by our humanity, and anything we can do to alleviate some of the trauma, dislocation and pain experienced by those less fortunate than we is an act of kindness that is foundational to all of the world’s great religions.  
 
On behalf of The First Parish in Lincoln, we thank all who can donate something in this effort to help our neighbors in Boston and Cambridge.

Cash Donations may be made directly to Bay Cove Covid 19 Vulnerable Neighbors Fund, on their website or by check to Bay Cove at 66 Canal St. Boston, Ma 02114.

Minister’s Message: May 2020

Dear Friends:

Last week the Parish Committee voted to extend my contract so I will be with you for another 2 years.  I am honored by this invitation and also challenged.  It’s quite a time for us to be walking together, isn’t it?

I feel grateful, and some days, I admit, I hope I’m up to the task.  But that’s common I think for all of us in this strange time.  We do the best we can, trying to take each day as it comes, noticing the small things, sinking into ordinary moments, trying to love each other and figure out a way, even if it’s small, to help and be a blessing to the wider world.

We’ve been working together, you and I, as you’ve tried to articulate your identity and core values.  Well, now, I think we are at the place where the “rubber hits the road.”  COVID19 is forcing you, me, all of us to stop talking and starting living out those values.

Who are we and how are we going to show up in this world? How are we going to collaborate and co-create the new world that will come into being, hopefully one of less inequity and more justice.

I’ll talk a bit more about this on Sunday, but for now, be well and stay in touch.  It’s good to be with you.

Jenny

April 2020 Pastoral Prayers

Sunday, April 5, 2020
Melinda Bruno-Smith  

Standing in the center of the storm
Listening
to the news from all directions.
Fear, anger, confusion  swirl.
Daffodils are blooming, people are dying.
Each of us forced to stand alone.

In this moment, 
I seek stillness, quiet.
I breathe deeply and try to see clearly.

What is important now  during this storm?
What is essential?  The bare minimum necessities
Food,  Shelter,  Well Being.
I pray for guidance  to do the right thing.

In this moment,
The noise is amplified
As are thoughts, feelings, reflections
Inner voice and out voices seems to have the same volume.

In this liminal moment, this transitional moment,
as we ride the storm alone and together
What is important?

I try for kindness. 
I see my own resistance rise and  try to let go.
I connect to the inner voice that I know
will guide me holistically to the next place.
The voice of calm and compassion.  


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Meredith Jeremiah

Loving God, Spirit of Life, 

It is Easter Sunday, and we gather together this morning hungry, longing for ancient stories to bring new hope, to bring something we can cling to. For we gather here with weary hearts, some of us, hearts carrying the grief of the world within them. And some days it just feels too heavy. The extent of the death, the fear and the hurt can feel like too much to bear. We are a people seeking comfort, seeking hope, seeking something to carry us forward. What does the Easter story have to say when devastation surrounds us? 

Our circumstances right now have cut to the heart of the matter. In this time, the important things in life have become so clear. We long for human connection, for the touch of those we love, for the ability to gather as a community of faith. And the things that matter less, those have become clear to us too. Maybe we are to give thanks for the clarity that has come with this new way of living, this new way of being. Each time we open our eyes in the morning, each breath and beat of our heart becomes noteworthy. And with each breath we exhale thank you, thank you, thank you. We give thanks for our place in the interconnected web of all existence. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, life can be a prayer. 

The Easter story, if anything, is one of hope. For in the midst of suffering hope rises up. In the midst of our human despair, creation is ringing out with hope that rises from the ashes. Creation shows us that death, in fact, does not have the final word. In the daffodil, hope rises up. In the new baby, hope rises up. In the budding trees, hope rises up. In the bird song, hope rises up. All creation is ringing out with a song of hope this morning. Let us give back the song. 

Amen


Sunday, April 19, 2020
Melinda Bruno-Smith  

**A reading from Pema Chodron’s book: WHEN THINGS FALL APART: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.  PEMA CHODRON  is an American Buddhist nun.

Impermanence is a principle of harmony.  When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.  When impermanence presents itself in our lives, we can recognize it as impermanence. We don’t have to look for opportunities to do this.

When your pen runs out of ink in the middle of writing an important letter, recognize it as impermanence, part of the whole cycle of life.  When someone is born,  recognize it as impermanence.  When someone dies,  recognize it as impermanence.

When your car gets stolen, recognize it as impermanence.  When you fall in love,  recognize it as impermanence and let that intensify the preciousness.  When a relationship ends, recognize it as impermanence.

There are countless examples of impermanence in our lives everyday, from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep, and even while we’re dreaming.
This is a 24 hour a day practice. 
Recognize impermanence as impermanence.


Sunday, April 26, 2020
Melinda Bruno-Smith

I feel the loss, as you do.
My heart aches for something to hold on to.
Comfort to ease the pain, the fear of not knowing.
 
It’s like a raft has pushed away
from the shore of my knowing
With me on it
And you are there too, six feet apart.
 
We are floating to a distant land,
alone and together.
What can I bring that is useful?
 
This letting go of what I have grown used to
Is so hard
There is an empty space now
that has taken its place
The center is dark, quiet, peaceful
All action suspended,  intensified.
 
What shall I let in to heal?
Light, music, beauty,
A smile, a virtual hug,
A prayer to carry me through to the next place.
 
I must have faith and trust
that the universe will provide me
with everything I need
for a safe and guided journey
Wherever the final strand may be.
 
I have no choice
but to be present to myself and
to all those around me,
To breathe deeply
Because I believe, the choices I make now
will be there to greet me at the next shore.

Easter Offering finale—more good news

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Clearly the spirit of generosity remains alive and well at First Parish amidst the threat that faces us all!  The final tally for the Easter offering was an amazing $9260, which by a very large margin breaks all previous records for any holiday offering for the past decade if not for all time.  Checks for $1852 are being sent to each of the five organizations now struggling to provide food for neighbors in need in and near Lincoln: the Lincoln Food Pantry, Open Table, the Community Day Center of Waltham, Waltham-based Chaplains on the Way, and the Roxbury-based Unitarian Universalist Urban Mission.  And greeted with thanks and relief: “This is wonderful news!” “The outpouring of support from your community has been amazing.”  This impressive and heartwarming collective accomplishment also augurs well, we hope and trust, for the success of such other efforts now in process under FPL leadership as the Mother’s Day popup drive and the food donation drive for the Lincoln Food Pantry.

Transition Team extends commitment

Recently, in light of the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the world and our church, the Parish Committee, in conversation with the Transition Team chairs, voted to extend FPL’s Interim Period to a fourth year.  The plan now is to name a Search Committee in the Spring of 2021 rather than next month, with the goal of calling a new minister in the spring of 2022.

We are blessed and thankful that Reverend Jenny Rankin has agreed to continue to walk by our side for this extended journey.  Additionally, all seven members of the Transition Team (who originally committed to a two-year assignment) have also enthusiastically extended their commitment to a fourth year.

Two months ago we were on track and ready to move to the Search process, but now we have more time.  How fast things can change!! How should we best use this new found time? One thing is for sure.  We will not be hitting the “Pause” button; way too much has changed.

The Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew, of the Southern New England UCC, advises, “We cannot go back to the way things were, and this includes our pre-coronavirus way of doing, being, and thinking about church.”  He urges churches to consider, “How must the church change for a new normal?”, with a secondary question being: “How can we best use this interim time to prepare our church for that new normal?”

This, First Parish friends and family, is what the Transition Team will be helping us all explore in the coming months.R.L. Smith and Gina Halsted for the Transition Team

NOMINATING COMMITTEE PRESENTS SLATE FOR FY2021

The Nominating Committee is pleased to present the following slate of members to be elected at the Annual Meeting of our church on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Officers

Moderator                             1 year             Barbara Sampson

Treasurer                              1 year             John Kryzwicki

Assistant Treasurer              1 year             Mary Briggs

Clerk                                       1 year             Sylvia Perry

Board of Deacons

Member                                  3 years            Sarah Bishop

Member                                  3 years            Doug Crosby

Member                                  3  years           James DeNormandie

Member                                  2 years            Andy Clark

Chair person                          1 year             Paula Waterman

Parish Committee

Member                                  3 years            Nick Covino

Member                                  3 years            Jessica Packineau

Member                                  3 years            Jean Welsh

Member                                  2 years            Jane O’Rouke

Member                                  2 years            Pete Hussey

Chair person                          1 year             Nick Covino

Nominating Committee

Member                                  1 year             Linn Elmes

Member                                  1 year             Jennie Morris

Member                                  1 year             Joe Robbat

Member                                  1 year             Ray Shepard

Chair person                          1 year             Tom DeNormandie

Additional nominations may be made by any two members of the church; the nominee must be a member of the church and assent to the nomination.  Such nominations must be received by the Nominating Committee not later than Monday, May 18, which is 15 days before the Annual Meeting.    (Note:  Current members in mid-term are not up for re-election; their names will be included in the Annual Report, but are not included above.)

Submitted by the Nominating Committee:  Tom DeNormandie, Alexis Jette Borggaard, Sylvia Perry, Ray Shepard and Barbara Sampson

Online Sources for Mother’s Day Pop Up Drive

AMAZON PRIME

WOMEN’S CLOTHING

90 Degree By Reflex Women’s Warm Outerwear Cold Gear Jackets and Hoodies

in Sizes Large and Extra Large – $19.99

Hanes Cool Comfort Cotton Brief Panties 6-Pack  – $9.47

Sizes 8, 9, 10

CHILDREN

Pampers Diapers Size 4, 186 Count

One Month supply                                       $53.33

Pampers Diapers Size 5, 132 Count

One Month supply                                       $46.63

TARGET

Men’s Clothing:

Hanes Men’s 4-pack Short Sleeve

Sizes L, XL, XXL

https://www.target.com/p/hanes-men-s-4pk-dri-crew-neck-t-shirt-black-gray/-/A-17286564?preselect=17277822#lnk=sametab

Comfort Wash T-shirt

Deep Blue Sizes L, XL, 2XL – $12.99

https://www.target.com/p/hanes-men-s-4pk-short-sleeve-comfort-wash-t-shirt/-/A-76558694?preselect=54650145#lnk=sametab

Men’s Standard Fit Hooded Fleece Sweatshirt

Full Zip.  Navy Sizes L, XL, XXL  – $19.99

https://www.target.com/p/men-s-standard-fit-hooded-fleece-sweatshirt-goodfellow-co-153/-/A-52525006?preselect=52444664#lnk=sametab

Fruit of the Loom Boxers

5-pack Size: L and XL

https://www.target.com/p/fruit-of-the-loom-men-s-5pk-boxers-colors-may-vary/-/A-13693246?preselect=13693129#lnk=sametab

Richmond Flip Flop sandal Goodfellow & Co.

Black or Navy Sizes 9/10, 11/12, 13 – $4.99

https://www.target.com/p/men-s-richmond-flip-flop-sandal-goodfellow-co-153/-/A-54216147?preselect=76758225#lnk=sametab

TARGET

Women’s Clothing:

Hanes Premium Women’s Cool and Comfortable Cotton Panties

6 – pack, Sizes L and XL – $17.99

https://www.target.com/p/hanes-premium-women-s-cool-comfortable-cotton-briefs-panties-with-x-temp-6pk/-/A-16934342?preselect=16880307#lnk=sametab

Women’s Hooded Sweatshirt – Universal Thread

Green or Black; Sizes L, XL, XXL                     $24.99

https://www.target.com/p/women-s-hooded-sweatshirt-universal-thread/-/A-79621123?preselect=78264975#lnk=sametab

Women’s Short Sleeved T-shirt

“Wild Fable” Plum, Olive; Size: XL – $8.00

https://www.target.com/p/women-s-short-sleeve-t-shirt-wild-fable-regular-plus/-/A-78770175?preselect=78591024#lnk=sametab

Women’s Shower Flip Flops

Ava Skinny Strap; Tan or Blush; Sizes 8, 9, 11 – $9.99

https://www.target.com/p/women-s-ava-skinny-strap-flip-flop-shade-shore-153/-/A-53793976?preselect=53736998#lnk=sametab

Women’s Hygiene:

U by Kotex Clean Wear Ultra Thin Heavy Flow Pads 32 count  –$6.99

https://www.target.com/p/u-by-kotex-cleanwear-ultra-thin-heavy-flow-pads-32ct/-/A-12213586

Tampax Pearl Tampons

Regular/Super Absorbency Unscented – 34count – $6.99

https://www.target.com/p/tampax-pearl-tampons-regular-super-absorbency-with-leakguard-braid-duo-pack-unscented-34ct/-/A-46793820