Minister's Post, Fri May 7

In prayer, we take a moment to solemnly remind ourselves of our purposes and our gratitude, that they may guide and affirm our actions and our being. Will you, then, pray with me?

This Week's Prayer

Remembering the words of the 14th-century saint, Julian of Norwich, England:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well, for there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.”
Dear Force of Love,

You move through the universe. You hold us fast. Force of love, you will never let us go.

Worldwide, reported new cases of, and deaths from, Covid-19 both began coming down a little bit in the last 10 days. But the situation in India continues to be disheartening. The reported deaths are now averaging 3700 a day there, and the actual deaths are likely much higher.

The parts of the world that rely most on humanitarian aid are plunged into great need and greater famine as the pandemic exacerbates shortages. Let us name: Yemen, Haiti, Syria, South Sudan and Tigray, and Ethiopia. Human rights are denied on a large scale. Let us name: Myanmar, Afghanistan, Columbia, Palestine, and Israel. May we remember we are all human together.

The human animal like many other animals is prone to aggression; like many other animals engages in competitions for mates, sometimes violently; like many other animals is subject to fear, and sometimes stampedes; and like many other animals, we human animals love our young and grieve for our dead. Let us not in overweening pride think our species superior. We are much more like than unlike even our most distant vertebrate relative, and this shared animality links us with creation, grounds us in this common Earth. Our animal bodies give us most of the pleasures we know, and are the source for the metaphors we weave in our more intellectual pleasures. “We are made of dreams and bones,” as the song says. Mostly bones – and it is from the bones that the dreams emerge.

Dear Force of Love, let us be your hands to do the work, your ears to hear the cries of the world, and your mouths to speak for justice.

We are grateful:
for air, and lungs to breathe;
for sunlight, and skin to feel it;
for the bonds of community that hold us.
for the announcement that the latest ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has been contained;
for the hard work of those sewing to seek an end to menstrual period poverty especially for refugees;
for medical personnel who have been overstressed for over a year and continue to serve need.

We ask of ourselves the mindful intention to delight in what is good, to confront what is cruel, to heal what is broken.


Covid Review

The Worldwide numbers are not reliable, and likely are greatly underestimating the actual prevalence of Covid-19. These numbers may nevertheless give us an indication of trends.

The 7DMA (7-Day Moving Average) of new cases per day: after increasing steeply for more than 9 weeks, began leveling off last week, and actually declining this week. It is still 2.2 times what it was as rececently as Feb 20.

Worldwide 7DMA of new cases as of:
Jan 11: 745,294
Feb 20: 360,887
Apr 22: 807,359
Apr 29: 830,044
May 6: 794,705

The 7DMA of deaths per day, worldwide, peaked on Jan 26, and fell steadily until Mar 12 -- a decline of 43 percent over 45 days.
From Mar 12 to Apr 30, however, deaths increased, growing by 62% over the Mar 12 level.
Since Apr 30, reported deaths have been coming down a bit.

Worldwide 7DMA of deaths as of:
Jan 26: 14,459
Mar 12: 8,296
Apr 22: 12,223
Apr 29: 13,466
May 6: 12,899

United States.
In the US, the 7DMA of new cases per peaked on Jan 11. New cases then fell sharply for six weeks: by Feb 21, it was down 73 percent from Jan 11.
From Feb 21 to Apr 17, the rate of new cases stayed essentially flat, wavering up and down only a little: about 64,000 new cases a day, plus or minus 8,600. It's been on a slow decline this week, and, as of Apr 29 broke through the lower limit of that range -- barely. New cases per day are now lower than at any time since last Oct 7.

U.S. 7DMA of new cases as of:
Jan 11: 255,546
Feb 21: 69,070
Apr 22: 64,296
Apr 29: 54,815
May 6: 46,308

Deaths have flattened out, particularly in the last month -- but they are, very slowly, declining. The 7DMA of Covid deaths per day as of May 6 is 692 -- the lowest since last Jul 10.

U.S. 7DMA of deaths as of:
Jan 26: 3,472
Apr 1: 919
Apr 8: 783
Apr 15: 742
Apr 22: 744
Apr 29: 731
May 6: 692

So be careful! We're not out of the woods yet.

ICYMI ("In Case You Missed It")

Here's the May 2 service, "Healing"

Practice of the Week

Risk the Dreaded Experience. Sometimes, maybe, you’re inhibited by an unreasonable fear. Suppose you'd like more caring from someone, but past experience makes you cautious about revealing those vulnerable longings, so you play it safe and don't ask for anything.

In what ways for you has an emerging self-expression been inhibited? Maybe you’d like to get closer to someone, but risk of rejection inhibits you. Maybe your expression of your feelings is inhibited – or a desire to do something. Sometimes the inhibition is reasonable, but often it’s not -- because the brain’s negativity bias overestimates both the likelihood of a bad outcome from self-expression and the amount of pain you'll feel if something bad actually happens.

Start by observing how this sequence proceeds in your mind:

(1) self-expression --> (2) expectation of pain --> (3) inhibition.

Next, challenge your expectations. Are they really true? Help yourself appreciate the fact that expressing your emotions and wants -- in reasonably skillful ways -- will usually lead to good results.

Then, move out of your comfort zone by taking calculated risks. Start with the easy ones and work your way up the ladder of increasingly vulnerable and high-stakes self-expression.

A wonderful freedom grows in the heart as you do this. You're less cowed by dreaded experiences. If a painful result does happen, notice you can cope with it OK. Overall, it’s probably worth occasional pain for the pleasures of fuller self-expression. Last, when it turns out fine, take it in.

For more details on risking the dreaded experience, see the post: Risk the Dreaded Experience.


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