High River United Church of High River, Alberta
        

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Pandemics are Alarming

Can’t remember what you just read? Feeling like you just need a drink to steady the nerves? Sleeping in more than usual? Experiencing anxiety? Just walked from the living room to the kitchen but can’t remember why? Sometimes you feel a sense of dread or that something bad might happen? Finding it difficult to stick with reading a book or another activity you usually enjoy? Or, maybe you are just that little bit more compulsive and, for example, you make sure all the light-switches are matching the same on or off position? These are all products of living with alarm. Pandemics are alarming. If we can’t fix the alarm, it can lead us to become anxious. And if we can’t fix the anxiety, it can lead to compulsions and addictions. It can also affect our ability to concentrate or affect our short-term memory.

 

So much of the world’s population is alarmed by this pandemic because fundamentally, it threatens our togetherness with various forms of separation—travel restrictions, border closures, stay at home orders, limits on outdoor and indoor gatherings, restrictions on number of participants in houses of worship, weddings and funerals, illness and mortality. More than anything, human beings desire togetherness. Being apart is against our nature. Why? Because togetherness helps us live, thrive and survive. When disaster strikes, the first thing we want to do is seek out our loved ones, those to whom we are attached.

 

But the virus lives when we are together. For us to beat the virus we have to stay apart to stop transmission. This separateness is counter-intuitive to nature’s design for us. And so, we are forced to face separation everyday in so many ways. It can feel like we are living with something between a low-grade and chronic alarm all the time, while the news continues to report case counts, ICU stats, and mortality rates, not to mention even more alarm around very rare (VERY RARE!) health complications related to vaccine. We are alarmed and scared by COVID, but the alarm we feel prevents us from making sense of the risk and like a snowball going down hill runs our capacity to reason right off the rails. This is what an alarmed brain can do.

 

Therefore, it is important to take up a relationship with the alarm to bring it down. Sometimes it helps to say out loud, “I’m feeling really alarmed (by the news, the stats, the fear of getting COVID, and/or the separation we are feeling)”. We name what is alarming to us. And because the alarmed brain can easily cause us to think catastrophically, we need to ask ourselves, “Is what I’m thinking really true?” In addition, can we turn off the TV for awhile, limit our social media time, and remind ourselves that while we are home, we are OK. In this moment, “I am safe”.

 

Pandemics are alarming. Yet, we know that fundamentally we are NOT alone. The Prophet Zephaniah says, "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; God will rejoice over you with gladness; God will quiet you by his love…" (Zephaniah 3:17)

Rev. David

www.highriverunitedchurch.org

a community of help, home & hope, serving in Christ's name.

 

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