Lection Connection

October 4, 2020: Words for Living


From Sandra Rooney
In recent months, we’ve been learning some new “words” for living. For all of us there are the phrases “wear a mask,” “social distance,” and “wash your hands.” Recently, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director the Center for Disease Control, speaking to U.S. Senators, called masks “the most important, powerful public health tool we have,” adding that universal use of face coverings could bring the pandemic under control in a few months. While saying that a Covid-19 vaccine is the thing that will get us back to normal everyday life, he emphasized that “the best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.”
On the West Coast, where fires have raged in California, Oregon, Washington, and all along the southern coastal states of the U.S., the word for living has been “evacuate.” Three weeks ago, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon reported that over 1,500 square miles had been burned in the state, more than 40,000 Oregonians had been evacuated, and 500,000 more were in areas that might have to be evacuated as the fires continued to grow. On the southern coast in Louisiana, where residents were still reeling from Hurricane Laura, a new category 4 hurricane, Hurricane Sally, came ashore. Authorities in Florida worked to rescue people stranded in flooded areas and estimates indicated that evacuations could number in the thousands. Close on the heels of Hurricane Sally came Tropical Storm Beta, expected to produce six to 12 inches of rainfall, with isolated pockets that could total 15 inches, from the middle of the Texas coast to southern Louisiana. The storm surge could be as much as four feet. Voluntary evacuation orders were issued for communities in Texas. 
The stress, anxiety, and fear we’re facing these days require other words or phrases for living. An article in the magazine Yes! titled “When Savoring a Pleasant Moment Is a Radical Act,” subtitled “Small joys are essential for resilience,” psychologist and trauma expert Peter Levine writes, “Cultivating joy is an important component of resilience as it increases our capacity to face difficulties.” We do that by cherishing the small moments of joy. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, reinforcing the importance of focusing on and absorbing ordinary moments of joy, says it has “a very real and cumulative beneficial effect on our health.”
Explore…Exodus 20:1–4, 7–9, 12–20
  • How do these new words or phrases “for living” stack up against the commandments?
  • In what way are these new words for living relevant to your situation?
  • What words for living you would add to the list?
  • What do the commandments and these other words have in common? How are they different?
  • What small joy have you experienced recently?
God of our ancestors and our God, we pray that we may heed the Words for Living, old and new. May they provide the guidance we require to live in harmony with our neighbuors. May we find in their wisdom the path to resilience, hope and compassion. Amen.
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