JUST SPREAD LOVE AT THANKSGIVING by Rector Chris Girata
JUST SPREAD LOVE AT THANKSGIVING was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, November 20, 2020
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
There’s an old adage that has always made me chuckle: Today is the first day of the rest of your life! This statement is blatantly obvious and true every day, but for us, I hope it’s truer today than it has seemed recently. We need a fresh start, a new beginning and I think it’s in our DNA to be part of the change.
Nearly a month ago, as COVID-19 cases began to rise around the country, Texas did well to buck that trend. However, a few children I know contracted the virus and began to struggle with symptoms. We’ve all heard the reports about vulnerable populations struggling disproportionately with the virus. Older adults, people with diabetes and asthma, those being treated for severe health problems like cancer, and more are especially sensitive to damage this virus can do. Along with those warnings seems a constant refrain that children are particularly resilient and seem not to struggle. The statistics bear this out, but my experience is different.
What we choose to spread at Thanksgiving will be very important.
I watched as teens in my church began to show symptoms and those symptoms worsened. Some of those teens, ones without any preexisting conditions, have struggled with trouble breathing, significant body aches and fevers that have lasted more than three weeks. This virus is harsh and does not spare even the healthiest among us.
Like so many of you, I’m exhausted by this pandemic. I want it all to be over or at least to be in decline. This “third wave” of infections is so depressing. Yet here we are. We are alive and we can help ourselves, our family and friends stay that way if we exercise a bit of caution and restraint, especially at Thanksgiving.
I know firsthand that restraint at a celebration is not easy. A couple weeks ago my grandmother died peacefully. She was a remarkable person and lived a beautiful life, and to celebrate her life, I traveled to be with extended family members. It was the first time I had be on a plane and around extended family since the quarantine began. We all wanted to act like things were normal, to literally cast off our masks and do everything we would typically do when we were together, but we all knew that we had to remain vigilant. We maintained good distance, we spent most of the time together outside, and yes, we wore masks. It’s weird and I didn’t like it, but we all walked away from that experience, now a couple weeks ago, safe.
When we choose to follow good protocols, we are choosing to honor and love our neighbors.
You’ve heard this message before. This is nothing new. But I want to offer this message to you, in this non-religious forum, as a matter of faith. Whether you subscribe to or participate in any formal spiritual community, we are connected to one another in truly spiritual ways. When we choose to follow good protocols, we are choosing to honor and love our neighbors. That expression is not to be taken for granted and is a reminder to all of us that regardless of our religious affiliation or spiritual identity, we are in this together.
We are a human family and should be willing to act humanely, even when those actions are inconvenient or uncomfortable. You are not alone in the frustration, nor are you alone in the responsibility to care for all people. This Thanksgiving, let’s make sure the only thing we spread is love.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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