This week, people on the front lines of dealing with COVID-19 — teachers, administrators, law enforcement and medical workers — have had two virtual opportunities to share their experiences, from sorrow and grief to goodwill and laughter, thanks to an initiative of Christ our Light Parish in Princeton and Zimmerman.
Additional opportunities are scheduled over the next few weeks.
Molly Weyrens, pastoral associate, and Wendy Rappe, director of faith formation, facilitated the one-hour Zoom meetings.
“From my training in chaplaincy and group spiritual companioning, I could see how something like this could benefit our people on the front lines who are living with amazing challenges,” Weyrens said. “As a church, we looked at how we could go to them, not wait for them to come to us. Just listening and being present are the hallmarks of good ministry.
“Christ Our Light wanted to offer this way to talk about the difficult processes they’ve faced during the pandemic,” she added. “We opened with a prayer and then a check-in. Participants reflected on and responded to what’s been hard for them. Then we focused on what gives them hope and keeps them grounded. I reminded them about spending time outdoors, getting enough exercise and good self-care. We closed with a poem and a prayer.”
The point was not to fix anything, Weyrens said, but a chance for professionals to reflect with others in similar circumstances.
“It’s been hard for them to find others who truly grasp what they’re going through, and it’s challenging even for spouses to understand those ups and downs,” she said. “Many of us have this tendency toward Minnesota Nice and push ourselves to make our difficulties all OK. But this pandemic is really hard, so we wanted to give space — not to wallow, but to talk about it and what’s happening in their homes as a result. Once we affirm the tough stuff, we can move forward. Our faith grounds us to do that. Our faith provides many ways to offer lament and hope.”
Besides the parish announcements and publicizing the meetings on Facebook, Weyrens phoned and texted those in the parish she knew more personally.
“While a few participants knew each other,” she said, “perhaps those who didn’t will now see each other in town or at church and can reach out to each other. And, our upcoming discussions aren’t limited to Christ Our Light parishioners.”
The groups laughed about common experiences, like Zoom calls that went bad. When one high school teacher realized the importance of dealing with social aspects as well as content, she hosted a fun Show and Tell time during her class. Others spoke of the challenge of staying grounded when their family members needed their attention at the same time. A health care worker struggled to give voice to experiencing the deaths of many people she had cared for.
Weyrens plans to follow up to learn what participants want. Groups might continue if the need exists.
“We’ll rely on the spirit to work, that people who need this outlet will find it and let us plan our next steps.”
Upcoming opportunities that the public can join are at:
• 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, for teachers and administrators.
• 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, for law enforcement and medical personnel.
• A combination of all of these groups will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10.
To join, visit Christ Our Light’s website at https://www.christourlightmn.org, find “Faith on the Front Lines” and click on the date and time. For more information, contact Weyrens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763-389-2115.