Need a little joy? Take in 55 seconds of Gurdeep Pandher of Yukon, Canada, who was very happy to get vaccinated. He posted this video on Youtube, along with the note:
"Yesterday, I received my Covid-19 vaccine. Then I went to a frozen lake to dance Bhangra on it for joy, hope and positivity, which I'm forwarding across Canada and beyond for everyone's health and wellbeing."
For more joy and dancing, re-watch this video that was part of the Feb 14 worship service:
Joy comes from connecting to other beings, human and otherwise -- in all of their wholeness, including the pain and anguish. Breathe in all the world's suffering, and breathe out love and peace.
Breathe in El Salvador. After this past Monday’s legislative elections. President Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party appears to have achieved the 2/3rds majority needed to pass laws, appoint the next attorney general and members of the supreme court. Although his promises to the nation were popular, this would eliminate all checks and balances over his power, and observers warn of the possibility of the country becoming an authoritative dictatorship.
Breathe out justice and democracy.
Breathe in the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, a lie that continues to be spread by some leaders who appear more determined to consolidate power than to work for policies that polls show are highly popular among their own constituents.
Breathe out truth and service to all.
Breathe in the many countries that consistently block internet access during protests or elections – thereby also blocking millions of people from working, studying, accessing health care, getting vital information about the pandemic, or buying essential goods or making payments. Among the worst offenders in 2020, according to a report just released by Access Now, were India, Yemen, Belarus, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Breathe out compassion and fairness.
Breathe in the years of violence and hardship in Afghanistan, where talks resumed this week between the Taliban and the government, with the Taliban maintaining that they want a political resolution and denying responsibility for the increasing spate of targeted assassinations of judges, journalists and activists.
Breathe out peace and prosperity.
Breathe in the escalating human rights violations against Uighurs in China.
Breathe out assurance and strength to the female witness whom the Chinese government is mounting a public relations campaign to discredit.
Breathe in the circumstances of the millions of migrants in Thailand who came from Myanmar and Cambodia, who were the primary breadwinners for their families back home, and who worked in areas as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture, and domestic work. Many are now stranded, unemployed and penniless; unable to find jobs in either their native lands or in Thailand.
Breathe out opportunity and security.
Breathe in asylum-seekers from Honduras, Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, and elsewhere required to wait in Mexico for their U.S. immigration court hearings. The Biden administration has admitted the first group of 25 migrants, and plans call for the pace to increase to up to 300 people per day. Instead of being held in detention centers, the migrants will be referred to local shelters and groups like Jewish Family Service for temporary housing during their Covid-19 quarantine period, before being released to join family or friends elsewhere in the U.S.
Breathe out encouragement and support -- and a commitment to realize with our time, our treasure, and our energies, the hope that we breathe.
Breathing in and breathing out, we grow steady in the joy that comes from connecting thoroughly to all that is -- the hard and the easeful, the rough and the smooth, the loss and the growth, the pain and the pleasure -- for the wholeness of joy excludes nothing.
We take hope as we hear that the research the led to the Covid-19 vaccines has also pointed the way to a promising malaria vaccine – the first in the world.
We take hope as we learn that the state of Kerala, India, has started a program to install solar panels on 75,000 homes, in a way that will make them affordable for even the most impoverished.
We take hope when we read about coffee farmers’ cooperatives in Nicaragua that are taking the lead in helping the farmers diversify, reforest, and improve the soil in response to the 2020 hurricanes that destroyed 10-40% of the coffee crop.
We take hope at the news that African countries have committed to restoring 250 million acres of degraded soil – an area the size of Egypt – by 2030. And that international investors have committed over $14 billion to restore the Sahel. In Niger and Burkina Faso alone, thousands of farms have regreened more than 12.5 million acres.
We take hope from the many across the world who are committed to making sure that the lessons of this pandemic do not go to waste -- that inequities and injustices in health care, infrastructure, education and economies revealed by the crisis do not get swept under the rug again -- that we remember that issues that we had long thought to be insoluble, in light of the urgency of the pandemic have already proven to be both immediately necessary and thoroughly possible.
Blessed be, and Amen.
In the US, for the week of Feb 26 - Mar 3, there were fewer new cases than in any 7-day period since Oct 16-22 -- and the number of new cases that week (Feb 26-Mar 3) was down to a quarter (25.6%) of the Jan 5-11 seven-day peak. The week of Feb 26-Mar 3 is only very slightly down from the week of Feb 15-21. In other words, for the last 10 days, the seven-day-average of new cases per day has been almost flat, with a slight rise and fall.
Covid deaths per week in the US peaked during Jan 19-26. This last week (Feb 26-Mar 3), deaths were still at more than half (56%) of the peak. For a week-and-a-half now (from Feb 20 through Mar 3), the seven-day-average of deaths per day has stayed at around 2,000 deaths a day.
Last week, I reported we were seeing some slight increases in both new cases and deaths. This week, fortunately, the numbers are decreasing rather than increasing, but they are decreasing quite slowly -- nothing like the rate of decline we were seeing in late January through mid-February. And at two thousand deaths per day, we are tragically losing 3-4 times the number of people per day to Covid-19 that we were just last early July.
So be careful!
Yours in the faith we share,
Practice of the Week
As we kick off the March theme, Integrity, the spiritual practices I want to highlight this week are the three exercises about integrity in the March issue of On the Journey.
Integrity entails being clear about your values, and acting consistently with your values. Are you clear about your values? Do your self-proclaimed values match how others see you? Exercise #1 invites you to wrestle with these questions.
Exercise #2 asks: What life lessons do you want to make an extra effort to remember? Integrity is also about how well we remember. Important life lessons come our way. Some of them stick and some slip away. Our integrity is determined by whether we remember them or forget, whether we hold our life lessons close or let them evaporate.
Then Exercise #3 also asks us to explore the connection between integrity and memory. Here the exercise asks us to remember all of who we are – all the names that we would have been given – the ways we would be known – by the mountain, or our work, or the sea, or what we wear. It’s a reminder that integrity is about finding and holding on to our wholeness – all the many ways we may be known.
See the full description of these exercises at THIS POST, or in the March issue of On the Journey.
See also our SPIRITUAL PRACTICE DIRECTORY