An Introduction from Rev. Jan Fuller
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
We are separated physically to protect ourselves and those who are vulnerable to the COVID 19 virus. The Chaplains will post daily reflections for our community, here, with the intention of staying in touch, keeping us spiritually connected, to give us a daily focus for our minds and hearts. We hope you will comment and let us know how you are holding up, sharing your struggles and thoughts.
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Reflection for the first day of on-line classes and physical distancing: We cannot change anything about the moment we are living in, except our perspective on it. We can fight, lament, or even hate the chaos, interruption, and uncertainty, but I’m also hoping we can reframe it, accept it, and find the blessing in it. (I do see the grief in it too, for students who were abroad and for seniors especially, and will reflect on that very real experience next time.) But for now, it is what it is, what we have is what we have. The best we can do is to live within the now, where we are, in the physical isolation, uncertainty, and perhaps overwhelm imposed on us for others’ sakes.
Ironically, we are experiencing a kind of unprecedented and literal global solidarity in our awareness of being connected, of sharing the same air and germs and food supplies, the same worry and even restlessness, even in physical distance. In isolation, working at home and online, we may get more rest, be more aware of our bodies and souls, and we may reject the busy culture that keeps us driving ahead. This moment calls us to pay attention to our most basic needs and priorities, and invites—in this moment—to keep silence and to be with ourselves in new ways. These are days we will remember and talk about our whole lives, defining us and the whole world. I encourage journaling, recording feelings and insights about these moments, artistic renderings, and reflective pieces as reminders of what was going on inside us.
Last week, this poem by Lyn Ungar appeared on Facebook and captured my attention. It says many things I was formulating in my own heart and spirit. I hope it will speak to you and give you a new perspective on being alone, settled, and physically isolated. May it help you see the holiness that is within and around us here and now. May you seek what is sacred in this difficult time, and find your soul growing through it.
Some questions to ponder: How can you reach out (or how have you done so) to others with love and compassion when you cannot reach them physically? What is sacred about this time for you? How are you centering your life right now?
Pandemic What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath— the most sacred of times? Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Center down.
And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. (You could hardly deny it now.) Know that our lives are in one another’s hands. (Surely, that has come clear.) Do not reach out your hands. Reach out your heart. Reach out your words. Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love– for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
Jan Fuller has been the University Chaplain at Elon since 2011. She is an Episcopal priest and deeply invested in helping students to find their own spiritual paths while interacting with others in differing paths with appreciation and respect. Raised in Beirut Lebanon for the first half of her life, Jan is the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries to the Arab peoples of the Middle East. Jan’s education includes a Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. in English and French from Hollins University. Jan describes herself as a “war-zone survivor,” who retains a sense of humor and love of gentleness. She loves Arab art and food, and all kinds of music. She intends to find the gift in every day and to live her life as a way of giving thanks.