Today's guest writer is Christa Champion, member of the CER Summer Institute Planning Committee (SIPC).
I woke up smiling today, on Day Seven in our current State of National Emergency, declared by the President on Friday the 13th. How can I smile in the midst of a viral pandemic, you ask? I can think of two big reasons.
One: I smile in appreciation and gratitude for the Here and Now. In the immediate present, I have a cup of strong coffee, a dog lying in the window seat and watching the birds out on the mud flats, and my spouse upstairs on her computer trying to figure out how to record videos of herself teaching literature lessons to tenth-graders. The students at our boarding school are on Spring Break right now, but classes will resume online in a week.
For now, Nancy and I are sequestered up here on the North Shore of Boston, in our little house by the harbor, watching the tides come and go over the clam flats. We have a pantry full of food and clean water from the tap and heat from the furnace and electricity from the wall and the internet from… the ether? We have been walking the dog around town or running on the rail trail, nodding to our neighbors and offering well-wishes. We have been doing a few yoga stretches, trying to stay loose. We have been on our phones and laptops, trying to stay close. We feel relatively safe, and we feel relatively healthy, aside from what we hope are seasonal allergy symptoms, and the normal muscle aches of aging athletes.
But the end of this thing is not coming soon. This virus is not going to blow over in a couple of weeks, like some people hoped, with everything going back to normal by the middle of April.
“Back to normal” is something that still seems far off in the distance. So how can I smile?
Two: I smile in appreciation and gratitude for the future, for the things that lie ahead of us in that far-off distance. Summer Institute is one of those things, and I am holding it out in front of me like a carrot, like a promise.
Although right now SI seems very fuzzy and far away, if I close my eyes and use my heart, I see our community clearly. And it is beautiful.
The CERSI (Central East Region Summer Institute) Planning Committee continues to actively plan for our annual week of magical SI community this July. We are choosing right now to look forward to Summer Institute with clear-eyed optimism.
That means that we are in the process of simultaneously expecting the best outcome, and preparing for the worst.
It is possible, even likely, that we will have to do some things differently at SI this year. It is even possible that we might have to cancel the physical gathering itself, and send out refunds.
But there are other possibilities, too, and I am glad that SIPC is continuing to plan as if SI can happen. Because I am a “glass half-full” kind of person, and I like to think about Summer Institute, way off in the future, the way we think about anything that we anticipate with love… as a golden possibility, shining somewhere beyond the horizon, just out of sight but drawing closer every day, even as it seems like nothing is changing, a possibility that someday we will arrive at, and be given the opportunity to enjoy.
Someday folks, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun… but till then, CERSI campers, let’s stay home, stay connected, and try to stay healthy.
I hope to see you all in California this July!
This notice was sent out to the SIPC Mailing list last week:
The Summer Institute Planning Committee, along with UUA staff and the rest of the crew hold you all in our hearts and hope you are well and secure with your loved ones in this stressful time.
So far, SIPC continues to plan to hold Summer Institute in July at California University of PA. We will next review this decision at our next meeting April 11. There is much uncertainty in this world of COVID-19, and we are all doing our best to take care of our communities.
If you have already registered, you may request a refund of monies paid in full until June 1st. We invite you to continue to register normally, and know that if we decide it would be safest for our community to cancel SI, you will receive a full refund of your registration fees or deposit. If you have questions about SI, please reach out to me at email@example.com, or contact the SI Committee on Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cal Frye, Chair, Summer Institute Planning Committe, Central East Region, UUA.