2021-07-09

Minister's Post, Fri Jul 9

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

Dear Earth and Waters, Air and Sky,

We know that love is an interpretation of experience – a meaning that we understand some acts to express. We may choose to interpret you, Earth, waters, air, and sky, as extravagantly pouring out your love upon us. Let us take a moment to step into that interpretive mode. Let us understand the reality around us as drenching and anointing all of creation.

Let us imagine that out of love for us, the universe provided us a home and brought forth astounding beauty. Earth and waters, air and sky: standing, sitting, rolling, or lying in the midst of your vast love, we pray in gratitude. Let us, for our part, love you, dear planet, in return for your love for us. Let us, for our part, love our fellow creatures, our fellow vertebrates, our fellow mammals, our fellow primates, our fellow humans – our neighbors.

A possible new species of humans made the news in the last couple weeks – called Homo Longi: the dragon human. Not an ancestor of homo sapiens, but a cousin species that lived at the same time as our ancestors around 150,000 years ago. Scientists have not reached consensus on whether the discovered skull represents a unique human species, or is a Denisovan. But what is increasingly clear is that the earth brought forth at least a handful of human species who at one time shared the planet with our sapiens ancestors.

There’s a story there – about who we are, and the legacy we inherit. Do we say we are competitors who out-competed the other homo species? Do we say we are cooperators, that our unusually hyper-social nature allowed our species to cooperate to survive? Probably we cooperated at competing. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The evidence of science opens us to profound wonder.

In this mood of wonder and prayer, we turn to the world of today.

Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. 17 days after the disaster, 129 people are either confirmed dead or unaccounted for.

We share the shock and fears of the people of Haiti, after Wednesday’s assassination of President Jovenel Mo├»se threw an already turbulent nation into chaos.

Our hearts cry out for an end to this pandemic. New cases of Covid-19 were up 15% in the US this week over the week before. Deaths continue to decline, but for how long, in the face of rising cases?

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

Amen.

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.

New Cases
New cases per day, worldwide:
Week ending Jun 17: 367,410 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 367,422 per day. Change from previous week: 0.0%
Week ending Ju1 1: 377,805 per day. Change from previous week: +2.8%
Week ending Jul 8: 416,459 per day. Change from previous week: +10%

New cases per day, US:
Week ending Jun 17: 13,015 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 12,464 per day. Change from previous week: -4.2%
Week ending Jul 1: 13,874 per day. Change from previous week: +11%
Week ending Jul 8: 15,993 per day. Change from previous week: +15%

New cases per day, NY+NJ+CT:
Week ending Jun 17: 881 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 762 per day. Change from previous week: -14%
Week ending Jul 1: 795 per day. Change from previous week: +4.3%
Week ending Jul 8: 868 per day. Change from previous week: +9.2%

Deaths
Deaths per day, worldwide:
Week ending Jun 17: 8,484 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 8,262 per day. Change from previous week: -2.6%
Week ending Jul 1: 7,747 per day. Change from previous week: -6.2%
Week ending Jul 8: 7,724 per day. Change from previous week: -0.3%

Deaths per day, US:
Week ending Jun 17: 333 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 309 per day. Change from previous week: -7.2%
Week ending Jul 1: 252 per day. Change from previous week: -18%
Week ending Jul 8: 208 per day. Change from previous week: -17%

Deaths per day, NY+NJ+CT:
Week ending Jun 17: 20 per day.
Week ending Jun 24: 15 per day. Change from previous week: -25%
Week ending Jul 1: 16 per day. Change from previous week: +6.7%
Week ending Jul 8: 11 per day. Change from previous week: -31%

The good news is that deaths from Covid-19 are still declining -- in our world, the US, and in our region (NY, NJ, and CT).

New cases, however, are now climbing. In the last week, new cases per day increased by 10% worldwide, and by 15% in the US. New cases also grew in our tri-state region, though not as much as the US overall.

Nationwide, the proportion who are fully vaccinated is now at 55% -- up less than a percentage point from one week ago. We won't put the coronavirus behind us until vaccination rates are higher -- and the rising number of new cases per day underscores the need for greater vaccination.

Practice of the Week

Create a Home Altar.

For the summer, we suggest some Worth a Try spiritual practices. This week: Creating a Home Altar. UU minister Rev. Johanna Nichols writes: The presence of my personal home altar connects me to the sacredness of life. The sacred objects on my altar call forth the sacred in me that connects with the sacred in nature and with the sacred in worship. It beckons me to pause, to reflect and to regain my sense of balance and wholeness.

Whether we do so intentionally or not, each of us creates an environment in our home that nurtures us through our senses — sight, sound, touch, taste, and scent. An altar can nurture you through your senses, add meaning and beauty to your life, remind you that the holy is present wherever we call home.

Your home altar should reflect your personal spiritual story. It doesn't matter whether it consists of a candle, a bell, and a statue of Buddha, or a piece of cloth, or a glass bowl and a photo on linen crocheted by your grandmother. It doesn't matter if you pay attention to the four directions or just gather your own precious objects and mementos. What is important is who you are in the presence of your personal altar. For there, you have created a place where you are invited to recognize the sacredness of life, where you are invited to "wake up!" and be whole. For the complete post about Creating a Home Altar, see the post, "Nature Practice."

See also our SPIRITUAL PRACTICE DIRECTORY

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