I participated in three hour-long zoom calls yesterday. I can see the value in each but, in a contest, would have voted the first my favorite. Although it began at 7:00 AM (not my best time to be fully functioning), there were several reasons to recommend it. As a pre-planned part of Bill Redfield’s Lenten on-line retreat, there was content to discuss. Interesting that although the discussion took a turn because of the COVID-19 virus that is ever-present now, the 16 early risers folded that topic in to the discussion in a way that was seamless and totally appropriate. We found the call to consciousness and lovingkindness heightened in ways we could never have predicted because of the virus.
The second offering was an experiment and, like most “first tries,” it was rather chaotic, especially at the start. As an invitation to a virtual “open house” to meet the new Congregational Leadership Team of our religious community, this call was a replacement (one of five) for the pre-planned “in-person” visit of these five women. In essence, it was a remarkable feat, offering more Sisters more opportunity to interact with the leadership than ever before because we are over 800 women spread across the United States and in Peru. The downside of the meeting was the lack of familiarity with Zoom and the large number of Sisters who responded to the invitation. Although it was honestly chaotic, the hour provided opportunities to see and hear one another (more or less!) and to know ourselves as part of a powerful force for good, larger than ourselves, and willing to move to a new way of connecting that will, in time, be of great benefit to us in the future.
Back for the evening offering of Bill Redfield’s Lenten retreat at 7PM, there was conversation of the same nature as in the morning but with a twist. In a way that is still a mystery to non-technophiles, Bill sent us for awhile to small group “rooms.” Because there were 30 participants, we were randomly divided into groups of three for the major part of the hour. While I’m always happy to experience all the participants – some of whom I have known in other retreat experiences – the wonder of being thrust into what is always a deep and meaningful conversation with two or three people I have never met before is always a blessing. My half hour with Dave and Tony was just such a gift.
So what is the point of all this? The willingness of people to find new ways to connect and the recognition of our need to know not only that life goes on in times of challenge and distress but also that we can be lifted up in solidarity with others who are experiencing the same is a blessing in the midst of this worldwide crisis. More than anything we have experienced, this moment calls us to unity and to a gratitude for the generosity of people who serve in ways that motivate us all to deeper understanding. May it be so for all of us. God bless us all!