Dear Brother & Sisters,

Week 9 — Add to this the inability to gather to for Mother’s Day, the snow and winds that have dampened our spirits and messed with our planting schedules (our tire-changing appointments, etc.), and the sadness many are feeling with the cancellation of the Carlisle Festival and other local gatherings, it would not be a stretch if these COVID days are beginning to take their toll!

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week… a time when we are invited to remember and pray for all who live with mental health and their families… a time when we are encouraged to learn more about mental health and the stigmas attached to it that brand and label people unfairly and hurt them enormously… and it’s a time with increased knowledge, awareness, empathy and care we are called to advocate for changes to funding models, available resources/programs and to seek ways to better welcome, include, accept and accompany people with mental health in our society and our church community; to de-stigmatize depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and the whole spectrum of mental health matters by breaking the silence in our efforts to live Christ’s commandment to love.

Let me offer some coping skills for folks who are feeling un-settled by the COVID-19 restrictions and limitations, the absence of familiar and favourite activities (swimming, baseball, golfing, family BBQs, church…), a lack of human contact, isolation, the overwhelming number of deaths (especially in long term care facilities), the stress of learning new technologies (Zoom, Facetime, Google hangouts…) … We are all carrying around a LOT of stress, grief, sadness which effects our mental health.

When you feel un-settled, overwhelmed by emotion or frazzled here are a few things you can do to distract yourself… lift yourself up… give yourself space to breathe, process, settle, cope. These tips do NOT solve the situation, rather they grant you a healthy “pause” so you can come back to whatever is causing you stress when you are stronger, calmer, more open and able to make logical, caring, creative, meaningful decisions and choices:

Light a candle. Sit quietly and pray. Read a devotional book. Reflect on scripture.
Call a friend and reminisce about something enjoyable — a recent Facetime visit, last year’s vacation, a book you both read, the flowers in your garden
Run your hands under very cold water. Splash cold water on your face and back of your neck. The cold distracts your body and your mind away from what is causing you emotional pain.
Hand wash a dish very slowly. Wash just one dish and pay attention to every second of the experience. That will take you out of the past and bring you into the present.
Go for a walk. Pray your neighbourhood… giving thanks for trees, birds, neighbours, community business – and praying for their well-being
Imagine placing painful thoughts and emotions in a box and then putting that box on a shelf.
Turn up some favourite tunes and dance! Sing! Scream! Cry! Laugh! Let it go! (cue music from Frozen…!!!)
Self Care: Do something that you find enjoyable. Tune in to one of your five senses.

Make and drink something yummy – tea, coffee, lemonade (smell and taste)
Look at a beautiful picture, drive to a favourite spot, (sight)
Smell a flower, some hand lotion, baking,… (smell)
Listen to a soothing sound – music, nature sounds, purring cat… (sound)
Snuggle with a fuzzy blanket, don a favourite sweater, put fresh sheets on the bed, (touch)
Self-care can include a sixth sense, motion, like going for a walk or exercising or doing yoga.
Everyone needs to do self-care, whether they have anxiety or not. We all have stressors in our lives and conscious, intentional self-care can help reduce our vulnerability to emotional stress.

Some Resources:

Go to YouTube and check out “online virtual tours” You can visit museums, historic buildings, tour cities and more! A wonderful way to learn, recall past visits, enjoy some new scenery from the comfort and safety of your home!

Enjoy this peace-filled version of Pachebel’s Canon in D featuring Lianne Tan – Minister of Music at West Plains UC on the cello! (Thank you Heather Olaveson for sending this along!)

In times of pandemic (isolation, stress, grief, anger, sadness, etc.) it is imperative we take care of our mental health and be mindful of the mental health of others. Reach out. Stay connected. Share tips in a loving way. Seek help without shame. Let go of guilt. No judgment. Support and care as Christ modeled to us!

Let Love be your guide!
Be well,

Here are links to the latest info regarding COVID-19 from The United Church of Canada?

From the National Church or

From our Horseshoe Falls Regional Council

Worship Offerings/Opportunities

Bulletins, full worship liturgies, puzzles are attached. If you know of someone who is shut-in or has no computer access to worship resources, please consider making a connection with them and sharing Sunday’s bulletin, message!

Here is the weekly link to on-line worship experiences from across Canada (380+)!

This week’s prayer as you journey…

Loving God, whose peace passes all our understanding;
as we live in this present pandemic, and experience fear and anxiety,
may we hear your voice, bringing calm to the storms of our time.
Strengthen all who work, to limit the spread of infection,
all who seek to care for the sick,
all who work and take risks so many can eat, stay safe, be healthy.
In all we do… our actions… our words…

keep us mindful of the most vulnerable amongst us.
May we shape our living to protect one another,
and may our changing habits, practices and sacrifices,
be for the greater love of our community and all your people.
In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN

We are NOT alone!
Be well Beloved of God! Be well!

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches