But not this Sunday

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Florida. Just a few minutes ago, I was looking through a folder of photos I gathered from all over the internet quite a few years ago when one of them caught my eye.

It’s of a beautiful, awe-inspiring Cathedral, and it seems at first to be unremarkable.

But when you pause for just a moment, you realize that there are only a few people in it.

On this Sunday, the photo seems to me to be a pretty potent symbol of what life is like at this moment.

This moment in our shared experience when so many of us are struggling to practice the social distancing techniques we’ve been urged to use.

And we’re trying to wrap our minds around that creeping awareness that it may be quite a while before we can recover, can fully experience again that comforting, life-sustaining practice of gathering with others to share and celebrate our commonality and shared values.

There are many reasons and many ways that people come together. It’s not only gathering for worship on a Sunday morning that many of us are missing right now.

But that’s the part of our shared human experience that’s uppermost in my mind at this moment.

I know that when we can comfortably gather with like-minded folk once again for worship and a thousand other things, we’ll clearly see how very much our lives are diminished when such a precious and vital practice is taken away.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Photo credit: Ben is not the owner of the uncredited banner photo and believes it to be covered under Fair Use.

Nurses and Doctors Lay It All on the Line

The first nurse in New York City to die of COVID-19 contracted in the line of duty has passed.

Kious Jordon Kelly had told his family that he thought he had contracted the virus while at work.

He most certainly was right.

He’s passed and his colleagues fear he will not be the last.

Our doctors, nurses and techs–healthcare professionals of all kinds–are on the front lines as the coronavirus ravages our communities.

Pray for them. Pray for them and advocate for those who make decisions to do whatever must be done to get them the tools they need to continue to serve our communities and the patients whose care has been entrusted to them.

God bless Kious and all who are on the front lines.

Take good care of yourselves; there are rough times ahead.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

An Abandoned Bear Cub and a Happy Ending

As you most likely know, we here at the FSF are passionate environmentalists and never miss an opportunity to advocate for wildlife.

And because we’re in such dire straits right now as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was quite happy to get a bit of nature news in my inbox just now. Some “feel good” news and I’m more than happy to pass it along.

An outdoor enthusiast passing through the Ocala National Forest a few weeks ago came upon an abandoned black bear cub on a dirt road.

This alert citizen did what anyone would do.

He took our hapless cub to a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.

Because I’m an annual pass holder at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, I’m one of the many zoo supporters who got “the rest of the story” about our tiny, furry friend.

He’s now thriving in the care of of Zoo Curator Lauren Hinson and the rest of the staff.

If you’d like to read more about this happy situation, just follow this link.

I loved reading all about it. In fact, I could bear-ly contain my enthusiasm as I passed my delighted eyeballs over the happy missive from the PR crew at the zoo!

Yeah, sorry not sorry!

I hope you’re getting some relief today from the cares of the day. Take good care of yourself, by all means.

And look out for all God’s creatures, whether they walk around in jeans, suits or in their bear skin!

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Blessings and a dark cloud

Today I find myself in one of those “happy-sad” situations.

There’s nothing unusual about that for me. I’m pretty sure that all of you can relate to that.

The things I feel good about today: it’s the first day of spring and we’re having a truly beautiful day here in Florida.

And I’m happy to note that our Fellowship turns one year old today.

Those are great blessings.

I don’t have to tell you about the sad part.

Today–like all of you–I’m living under this dark cloud and the great weight of uncertainty that comes with it.

I’m referring to the Coronavirus, as I’m sure you know.

I know this a really serious situation and we’re paying attention and following the instructions of our elected officials the medical professionals who advise them.

I’m apprehensive as we brace for very difficult and dark days.

These huge threats and those dark days do come around, of course. They’re nothing new.

Sometimes when we least expect it.

And we’ve got to use the resources we have. Our faith is one.

Our determination to go through this together is another.

As we continue to go through this unsettling trial, the words of the Psalmist found in the 46th Chapter come to mind.

Pray. Help in ways you’re able to help. Look out for those who are the most vulnerable.

And take comfort in these words:

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Psalm 46: 1-7

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Coronavirus, the danger of comparisons and our task today

It’s natural that when we have a new threat–talking about the Coronavirus–that we compare it to something we already know about.

But the Coronavirus is very different from the flu that we’re all very familiar with. Different in several important ways.

This article will help greatly if you’d like to know more and see why this is a much bigger deal than, for instance, a new strain of flu.

This is a time to look out for each other.

A time to ask for help if you need it, especially if you’re in a high-risk group.

A very good time to keep one another in our prayers. And most of all, to help one another when we’re able to do so.

That was a great priority for St Francis in his day; the need was very, very great.

And that’s certainly true for us today.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis

Friday Funny for March 13th

After the morning worship service wrapped up one Sunday, a young boy announced to his surprised Mom, “I’ve got it! I’m going to become a minister when I grow up.”

She asked him why, of course.

“Well,” said the boy, “I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit down and listen.”

May we all make sure to listen well to one another as we have our conversations. In and out of Church!

Brother Ben

Wisdom and Critical Thinking

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.

17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:13-18

In this passage the writer of Proverbs really wanted to drive home the point that acting wisely as we go through life is a good thing.

Yes, it’s a very good thing.

And who would disagree?

I love the way it’s stated so poetically here. And it’s true, very true in our day, just as it was when this pithy poem was written.

The point I want to make here is that some discernment, the ability to think critically is a very big deal, too.

I would say that’s it’s foundational, that wisdom absolutely depends on our ability to think critically, to clearly pierce through the rationalizations and half-truths and arrive at sound decisions.

As I take a look around the cultural and, especially, the political landscape these days, I don’t see a lot of wisdom.

And it’s clear to me as I look around or read the news that a lot of folks–people who hold the reins of power in particular–are sadly deficient in critical thinking skills.

Or have, perhaps, stopped using the skills they’ve got.

This is a very bad thing and bodes ill for our country.

May we all–those who make important decisions that affect the common good, especially–seek and employ the discernment and critical thinking upon which wisdom and wise decisions depend.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.