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Faith Community Perspectives on COVID-19: The Most Tender Places

By: Mary Remington, Director, Spiritual Care Department, Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern, NY; Director, Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program, Upaya Institute and Zen Center

I don’t know where I came from when I was born, or where I’m going when I die. This human experience feels to me more like a stage set for mystery, an invitation to step into wonder.

My life path as a Buddhist, helps foster an openness to that wonder. Meditation, vowing to kind and just living, committing to spiritual community and serving others, all support a deeper flourishing.

And as I get older, I find I am less and less drawn to narratives and beliefs that present themselves as ultimate answers, which is also surely why Buddhism draws my attention.  My sense of faith grows most deeply in the questions, in my very not knowing

Why are we here?

Where are we going?

What is all this?

How may I learn to truly love, to offer compassion, to touch God?

The questions activate my heart, feet, and mind.  They bring me open-eyed to the altar of other.

And it is in the space between self and other, where I then come to find things even larger… a unity…where dark and light illuminate us all at once.

Surely during this time of pandemic, many desire to know why this global experience is happening. As a chaplain, I have been asked more than once,  “What is God’s role?,” “Did humanity create this?,”  “Is this mother natures way of balancing the wrongs upon the earth?”

I know better than to offer any quick-fix ‘answers,’ not only because I don’t have them, but because the questions themselves bring me, and possibly many of us, to a place of surrender.  Inside my heart, leaning into the not knowing leads me to the most tender places with you.

Mary Remington

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