Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope--
…Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which you see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;…
-Rev. Victoria Safford, “The Gates of Hope.”
Pandemics end. “The end may be near for the pestilence that has haunted the world this year. Good news is arriving on almost every front: treatments, vaccines, and our understanding of this coronavirus,” Zeynep Tufeki writes in The Atlantic. We now know not just that pandemics end, but how this pandemic will end. And: “We have reasons to celebrate, but—and you knew there was a but—a devastating surge is now under way. And worse, we are entering this dreadful period without the kind of leadership or preparation we need, and with baseline numbers that will make it difficult to avoid a dramatic rise in hospitalizations, deaths, and potential long-term effects on survivors.”
This moment, when as we see both the end of the pandemic on the horizon and the sharp increases in infections in Lincoln, is a fraught one. As we go into the holiday season, the danger from COVID-19 has never been higher. At the time of writing, Lincoln is closing in on 2,000 cases a week- an order of magnitude higher than two earlier surges in the spring and fall. Because I live with a significant immune condition, last week Stacie and I made the difficult decision to pull Ailish out of daycare and care for her at home until the case rate falls.
Our priority as a church is the safety of our members. Because of this, we will remain fully online over the holidays. I know this is difficult- December is a month of traditions, and we are working to turn beloved in-person experiences (Christmas Eve, Stranger Share our Fire, the SoUUper Supper) into online formats.
But the good news is this: There are likely fewer pandemic days ahead of us than behind us. There is significant good news about potential vaccines, and treatments. The next months will be critical to our community, but we are not asked to make an open-ended sacrifice. In a daily update last week, I put it this way: If the pandemic were a baseball game, we are now in the 7th inning. While we are getting nearer to the end, as an Orioles fan, I can tell you with some authority that many, many baseball games are lost in the 9th inning.
This is the time where the world as it is and the world as it could be are in flux. The world will be different six months from now. What that world will look like, and how we remember the winter before we got a vaccine, depends on our actions today.
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Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.