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It is a strange and difficult time since March with no end in sight. We all are dealing with a virus that seemingly will not end. But a blessing from sheltering in place and reduction in the busy-ness is that we have a greater amount of time on our hands.
Though we may not always enjoy this, it does open our eyes to what we normally miss; the bandwidth to look beyond our daily life, job, family and concerns to see more clearly society and our nation. These last weeks have revealed much that is troubling — injustice, racial prejudice, polarizations between political parties and economic points of view, between a culture in one part of the country and another, between people of color and people with little color.
The combination of COVID-19, social turmoil, culture wars and politics can result in fear of the future, frustration in the present and, for quite a few of us, shame about both past and present. We have no idea when we can return to normal as it depends on what we have no control over, such as when the coronavirus is cured.
There is great fear about tomorrow and next year; what they will look like and when will be able to feel safe again? Frustration at the lack of power and control we have is common, with the economy besieged as jobs and businesses struggle to return to life. And just when we catch a glimmer of hope that normal is coming, a terrible surge in infections, illness and death both nationally and in our own region, slows it all down.
As I write today, 60 new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Napa County, with hospitals now treating 15 cases. This brings a total of 436 cases in the county with 39 in St. Helena, 36 in Calistoga, 39 in between St. Helena and Calistoga, 73 in American Canyon, 7 in outlying parts of the county and 242 in Napa.
Clearly, this time of pandemic is not over yet so please, please take good care of yourselves; wear masks in public, wash your hands, socialize not and stay safe and well.
On top of COVID-19, a keen awareness is building that as a society we suffer from systemic issues of racial prejudice and injustice resulting in a nation split by economic, cultural and social divides, all dating back hundreds of years. For many, this new perspective has caused those who identify as Caucasian, of Northern European descent, to reconsider their own understanding of prejudice, distrust and animosity toward others, especially those of color. I pray that we are experiencing the start of a change of consciousness, a shift where we begin to realize that what affects us as individuals and as society, affects all people and communities. That those who are white cannot really prosper if those who are Black do not, that unfair policies of policing or hiring or health services are detrimental to all members of a society.
Pastor Burke Owens leads the St. Helena United Methodist Church, 1310 Adams St. in St. Helena.
For information call 963-2839, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sthelenaumc.org. Sunday worship is livestreamed via YouTube at 10 a.m. every week. All services are available for viewing anytime thereafter on the church Facebook or YouTube pages. Faith, study and meditation groups continue via ZOOM call; please email or call for more information. Each Wednesday at 4 p.m., the church bell is rung in honor of those who suffer from the coronavirus, in memory of those who have died from the virus and in prayer for those who serve to protect us from the virus.
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