Spiritually Speaking

Rev. Jon Karn of Light on the Corner Church; Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian of Holy House Ministries; Anthony Kelson RScP, Laney Clevenger-White, RScP, and Rev. Dr. Beverly Craig of La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living; Rabbi Janet Bieber; Carolyn Young; Sharon Weisman; Rev. Mary Morgan, Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living; Rev. Tim Beck and Rev. Dabney Beck, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel; Lucinda Guarino; Pastor Randy Foster, Christian Life Church; Rev. Dr. Ellen Contente, Global Truth Center; Pastor Scott Peterson, Lutheran Church of the Foothills; Rev. Karin Ellis, La Canada United Methodist Church; Rev. Debbie Sayovitz, Epicentre Church; Rev. Dr. Antonio Gallardo, St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church; Rev. Sherri James, UP Church; The Rev. C. L. “Skip” Lindeman, Upland Christian Church, Rev. Rob Holman, St. Luke’s Anglican Church; Rev. Jeff Blanton and Rev. Emanuel David, Community Life Church of La Crescenta; Rev. Sharri Johnson, One Heart Retreat Center.
Responses are offered from the perspectives of individual clergy members, which may or may not be in agreement with other respondents of Spiritually Speaking nor the editor and staff of the Crescenta Valley Weekly.

Question: We’re new parents. Our baby boy was born six weeks ago. The problem is grandparents who want to visit. We’re not letting anyone visit and are taking precautions according to scientists’ advice. We don’t go out, either, because we work from home. We also have our groceries delivered. We do regular FaceTime with the grandparents, other family members and sometimes our friends.
The grandparents (on both sides of the family) are trying to guilt us into letting them come over. Is there a kind way of letting them know we’re not budging from our position until it is safe to do so? We’re concerned about relationships with our families, but we believe we’re doing the right thing. Help!
~ Protective Parents

Dear Protective Parents,
First, congratulations on your new baby boy! I’m sure you’re overjoyed and grateful to deliver a healthy baby during these trying times. What a blessing!
And what a blessing to have such loving and doting family members! I can only imagine how desperately they want to hold their grandchild. FaceTime is great, but we all know it’s not the same as the real thing! However, as his parents it is your decision and responsibility for his welfare. You have the right to delay access to your son until you feel safe to do so. This is not only for his welfare, but for the grandparents and yourselves as well. That is what science is telling us. And the statistics back this up. This is a very contagious virus and you’d be wise to err on the side of caution.
Now, from a more spiritual perspective and specifically “Science of Mind,” we believe our thoughts can create our reality. And so the belief that your son may get sick if he’s exposed to people outside of your home may be strong enough to bring that about. There’s an expression that says, “What you think about, you bring about.” That is not to say that you don’t have valid reasons for believing this. However, you can hold the thought that everyone will stay healthy, no matter what.
Another option your family could consider is having all the grandparents get tested for COVID-19 and if they test negative have them quarantine for 14 days at home before coming to see you and the baby. This would ensure that they don’t have the virus and so couldn’t pass it on to your son or your family. If that isn’t feasible, perhaps they can visit through the window as many people are doing when they can’t visit their loved ones. As I write this my husband has been in the hospital for almost three weeks and I’m not allowed to visit him. It’s hard and it seems unfair at times, but it’s also the right thing to do to keep everyone safe!
Lastly, continue to convey your love and empathy for your parents and in-laws. Guilt is not required – unless you choose to accept it! Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Stay strong in your convictions. Stay steadfast in your actions. Be patient and loving and everything will work out!

Rev. Dr. Ellen Contente

Dear Protective Parents,
Congratulations! Having a baby in the midst of the season of uncertainty is truly a blessing from God, that He is still doing good things even when it seems dark.
As for your question, it is truly a difficult one. Whenever a family disagrees on something there is tension and the fear of broken relationships.
I think it is important to continue to couch the conversation in the positive side. Both your child and the grandparents are some of the most susceptible people to this illness. They may only be seeing what they are missing out on, but your goal is clearly the long run. Make sure to let them see that you want them to see the child as much as they want to; you only want it to be safe when it happens.
The Bible says in Philippians 2:4, “Let everyone look out for the interests of others” and this is your goal. I am hopeful and praying for the change of heart. And may God’s blessing of your child in this season be a reminder to hope we can all hold onto.

Rev. Jeff Blanton

Question: For the first time in my experience, my life is falling apart. The one blessing for which I am thankful for during these times is I still have a job. My house burned to the ground, I was diagnosed with cancer and a beloved pet just had to be put down. I’ve been living with my son, whose life is equally disruptive. He’s getting a divorce and his wife just left, leaving him with two small children. We pray every day that our circumstances will change but we’re both wondering the reason God lets these things happen and if our lives will ever get back on track.
We appreciate any inspiration you can provide to help us move through these challenges.
~ Depressed Mother and Son

Dear Depressed Mother and Son,
I can’t even imagine how life feels at this moment with all the loss that you both have experienced, and I am very sorry that you are going through all of this.
First, I want to reassure you that all of what you are dealing with has nothing to do with God testing you or punishing you. You may be wondering: Why is all of this happening to us? What did I do?
The only answer that I have found to these questions is that challenges and suffering are a part of life, and that some people – like you in this case – face much harder challenges than the majority of all of us.
You may also ask yourselves, what will God do? And, because what is to come is uncertain, I invite you to try to ground your thoughts on what God has done.
When I read the Scriptures, I read that God has always been with God’s people, especially with those who are in pain and suffering, like the Israelites, Ruth and Job.
What you are going through reminds me of the story of Job who, in the course of one day, received four messages, each bearing separate news that his livestock, servants, and 10 children had all died due to invaders or natural catastrophes. Going through challenging times was not easy for Job. Job had a big fight with God over all of what happened to him and, despite that, Job remained in relationship with God, and loved by the God who promised never to forsake us. At the end of the story God returns Job’s health, providing him with twice as much property as before, new children and an extremely long life.
I hope that by looking at what God has done throughout history you get the light that comes from knowing that God is with you. Maybe if you look at your own life prior to these events, you may find God’s presence with you all along the way. In the middle of your challenges, you are blessed as Jesus said it in The Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
(Matthew 5:3-8)
May the Spirit of God manifest openly in your lives, to give you the light and the strength to carry on until the moment that your lives are turned around.

Rev. Antonio Gallardo

Dear Depressed Mother and Son,
You have asked, “Why does God let these things happen?”
When things go wrong in life, it is inevitable to ask why me? Sadly, our condition as human beings puts us in such a vulnerable position that bad things can and will happen to all of us in varying degrees throughout our lives. We weren’t born to slide through this life bruise-free and unscathed.
On the contrary, each one of us is on a journey that, although we think we have planned it out, we cannot foresee all of what will be encountered along life’s road full of ups and downs.
You have sustained so many major blows and setbacks that altogether have, no doubt, overwhelmed you and your son. How could that not happen when you are not only dealing with the loss of your house and your dear pet, the cancer diagnosis that is, at the very least, daunting and your son’s divorce and increase in childcare responsibilities? Any one of these things would be a great challenge; however, all together, it must seem at times like an avalanche of vexing and burdensome turns of events that are falling at the same time and making it difficult to come up for air!
It is time to find places of peace and solace among the roughness. The only way out of the storm you are riding is to see the bits of blue sky that are still there to remind you that the blue is ever-present even behind the storm that is raging all around you.
You said you have your two small grandchildren in the house you live in with your son. Children have a way of looking at life in a fresh and, lots of times, fun way. Spend time supervising them in activities that they enjoy and you can do with them without tiring yourself. Maybe they like watercolors, play dough, crayons. Maybe they have a board game or card game you could all enjoy. I don’t know if anyone likes to sing in your family but children generally respond to songs, especially when they are associated with special times of the day, like bedtime, breakfast time or anytime that would be made a little more fun with a song.
If you have a special food that brings you joy, eat it. Take the children out for ice cream and enjoy it with them. If you have a friend that you like to talk to, give them a call. Find a place where you can be in nature and hear the birds sing. Try to think of every way you can bring joy to the moments you have to experience and you will pile up the smiles that will offset the sense of sadness and loss that you carry now.
There is no easy path out of the hurtful place you find yourself at this time. However, any of even the tiniest baby steps toward including elements of fun and joy will bring you closer to finding that way out.
Have you found a Zoom spiritual service you would like to attend? Or perhaps an inspiring class on the Internet? This could open your heart a bit to joy as well and bring other, happier thoughts into your mental orbit.
May God grant you a perfect healing of mind, body and spirit. We will be praying for you.

Rabbi Janet Bieber