For a long time, many ERUUF members have been able to successfully avoid personal experience with COVID-19. We might have known folks who had the virus, but by and large, most of our families hadn’t been immediately affected. Was it because many of us have lives and jobs that have allowed us to stay at home or work with very limited numbers of people? In part. But some of us are essential workers, and by practicing the three W’s (“wash, wear, wait”) we/they mainly have managed to avoid contracting the virus.
Until now. All this began to change this fall, even before Thanksgiving, when a few people began to share privately with ERUUF’s ministers that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Most have had mild symptoms and immediately quarantined themselves until they recovered. At the same time, many of these folks also have asked for confidentiality because they’ve been embarrassed that they caught the virus.
I always honor people’s wishes about their privacy. And, as I’ve told them—it’s not anyone’s fault if they catch a virus during a pandemic. Health care workers covered head to toe in PPE sometimes catch this virus. It’s microscopic and airborne, and there are still huge unknowns about who this virus affects, and why.
People in our spiritual community are highly committed to safety (thank you!) and we can catch this. We also have different histories with health officials and the health care system; different family backgrounds and cultures about illness; different ideas about what it means to keep ourselves safe. Sometimes we have very different interpretations and make very different choices. We also make different meaning out of our experience.
So far fear of judgment seems to be just that—I haven’t heard anyone judge anyone else. And I hope that in our community we will not judge anyone who might become ill. It’s not anyone’s fault if they get COVID (yes, there are proven things we need do to care for ourselves; and still, none of us can judge how people do that based solely on appearances). There are some things that aren’t kind or good to speculate on. How someone became ill is one of them.
And if you do become ill, this community can be here for you if you let us know. Contact any of the ministers or ask a family member or friend to contact us. We can help by mobilizing our members to drop off food or supplies in a contactless delivery. Some among us who now have antibodies may be able to support your family or pets while you’re out of commission.
With the production of vaccines, the end is dimly visible and we know that we’re going to get through these last tough months. We can do this; we’re a very resourceful people. I am confident that together we can figure this out, and those who are able to be more physically involved will do that, and those who need to help from a distance will continue to do that too. And I’m very hopeful that we will continue to extend our compassion and care without judgment, just as we normally do. And that by doing these things we will become stronger and more resilient together.