“Eight Commands in Times of Uncertainty”

By the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, Missouri
Read by the Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae for “Yamim Nora’im: The Days of Awe” Service Reading on September 27, 2020.

What would Yom Kippur — the Day of Judgement — be without a few commandments? Now this is a Unitarian Universalist service and not a Jewish temple service so instead of the 613 commandments of Torah, I share with you the important and helpful wisdom of eight commandments from my colleague, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, for navigating through these times of uncertainty:

  1. Quadruple down on your spiritual practices. The things that keep you tethered to the earth, even as it shifts. The things that keep you living the life you are living in this moment, not some other life or moment. The things that allow your spirit to settle from the flurry and sink back into your body. These practices need not be a lofty hour of meditation, as long as you are present to them. A walk with the dog will do. Or a moment with a poem. Nursing the baby. Making a meal. Just do the thing with your whole self and the intention to practice and it is a spiritual practice.
  2. Put some pleasurable thing on your calendar that will be reliable no matter what is unfolding around you. Make a date and keep it. On Friday I am going to make chocolate mousse. On Tuesday I am going to call my best friend. On September 23 a new movie about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister drops on Netflix and I will watch it with hot milky tea and scones in hand.
  3. Find something to give thanks for every day. Not as a tool of spiritual bypass demanding that you somehow re-frame or breeze by your suffering. But as a reminder that the world is beautiful and terrible and we can’t forget about the beauty if we are to survive the terror.
  4. When you are surrounded by way too many questions and options, drill down to the smallest bit. Small is all. Just do the next right thing. And then the next. And then the next. Suddenly, you’re somewhere different than where you started and new options open before you.
  5. And when you feel totally robbed of options, be so intentional about the decisions that you are able to make. Here are two revelatory, and deceptively simple questions to ask yourself, depending on the situation: “What do I prefer?” and “What does love look like right now?”
  6. Turn off the news y’all. Or log off the doom-scrolling. You cannot information your way through this, and most of our sources are intentionally calibrated to keep our bodies on high alert so we always want more. Opt out. Curate your social media feed to be mostly funny cat pics and babies. And for God’s sake turn off the cable news. Switch to the classical station with the five minute news update on the hour. It is enough.
  7. Rigorously pursue soothing and comfort for your body, which is constantly being activated into stress response right now. Start by noticing several times a day that you have a body. What’s going on below your neck? Continue by asking yourself how you can be 5% more comfortable. Maybe you need a cushion. Maybe you need a heavy blanket. Maybe you need a walk. Maybe you need to drink some water. You probably need to drink some water.
  8. Finally, for now… Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to the people who can support you and rely on them. Reach out to your church if nothing else. Ask for what you need. Be reliable to your people, in return.

Stay soft, my dear ones, and we will make it through this stumbling.

Watch the entire service at uusm.org/sunday-service-video

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