"Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
I first hear Arundhati Roy’s voice in my parent’s kitchen, almost twenty years ago. She was an early and clear voice for peace in the run up to the war in Iraq, and my mother ordered a CD of one of Roy’s speech’s.
In 2003, Arundhati Roy made the same point she makes today: the way we have lived in the past does not need to be how we live in the future. We have the capacity to imagine different ways of being, and then live into them. There are big things we might imagine: a world that rises to the challenge of pandemics and climate change, or a country that comes to terms with our history of oppression and violence.
There are also opportunities to imagine new ways of being on a more intimate scale. In October, my parents moved from their home in upstate New York to live with me and Stacie in Nebraska. For the last two months, we have been living as a pod of five people, each of the four adults taking turns with the toddler as the other three work remotely. As an experiment in living during pandemic it has been a significant practical success- as a time to imagine what it means to live in a multigenerational household, it has been revelatory.
In January, my mother needs to return to New York for a surgery that is straightforward but time sensitive. Rather than rethink how we are living through the pandemic or put Ailish back in daycare before we are ready, Stacie and I will travel with my parents to New York for six to eight weeks, starting in early January. This is possible because we are temporarily a fully remote church- indeed after working through the options for some time it was apparent that this is the option that is least disruptive to my ministry. I lay this out in more detail in my daily video update from December 21, 2020, available here: https://youtu.be/umCcgaNyt3A.
Our family will return to Lincoln some time in March, and we cannot wait to gather in person with all of you at the church. In the meantime, take some time to imagine. What are the ways that we will be together? What is the world that we can imagine together?
Be at peace, beloveds,
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.