Dear UU Church of the Brazos Valley,
In the last year, we have experienced trauma unprecedented in our lifetimes. The assaults on our democracy, the devastation caused by COVID-19, repeated incidents of deadly police violence, the rise in white supremacist violence and the impacts of climate disasters continue to take their toll. So many lives and livelihoods have been lost. We are exhausted. We are grieving. To everyone in Texas, we send you our love and care and pray that you and your loved ones are safe. To leaders in communities impacted by these deadly winter storms, if your congregation, members of your community or local partner organizations are in need, the UUA’s Disaster Relief Fund is a resource for financial grants to help in this time. Please be in touch with Lisa Presley at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about applying for grants. Over the weekend, we awarded a grant to the San Marcos UU Fellowship to bolster a community effort to house and feed those experiencing homelessness. We also organized a shipment of water to First UU Church of Houston to distribute in partnership with neighborhood organizations. These are small offerings in what will be a long recovery, but they are real ways that UUs make a difference through the UUA’s Disaster Relief Fund. For those who are able, your donations to the Disaster Relief Fund will help us respond to the urgent requests coming in.
It matters that we lean more deeply into compassion and care. There is no more important practice or culture to develop in this time.
During times of grief and loss, we have traditionally found comfort and resilience in gathering together. As religious communities, it is what we do. Yet, we now approach the first anniversary of when, due to the pandemic, the UUA and most of our congregations shifted to all-virtual gatherings. For many, this has been an additional source of grief and isolation and can make it more difficult to process our grief and pain. Given the layers of stress and trauma, the need to care for ourselves is more important than ever. Encourage each other to take time off—and heed this advice yourself. It is critically important to support congregational staff and religious professionals, especially those who hold marginalized identities or who have children, to take time off. We must recognize the level of trauma that has disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous and Latinx people and communities of color. Additionally, many of our children are experiencing untold stress and challenges. Parents are giving all they can to support their kids and their livelihoods. It matters that we lean more deeply into compassion and care, for these are practices that remind us we are not alone and reinforce our humanity and our interdependence. There is no more important practice or culture to develop in this time. May you be kind to yourself and others. And may you have space to tend to your heart, your spirit and your well being. Our ministries and leadership will benefit from it. Yours, Susan P.S. Coping with COVID-19 is an online resource from Health Story Collaborative that includes mental health guidance, self-care and medical information, family resources and more.
Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray spends her days strengthening the thriving mission of this faith. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and playing with their dog, Hercules.