It’s been a year since most of us became aware that a virus in China could change our lives. Then, while we were still getting used to that idea, activities started being cancelled. Online life began: working, school, shopping, doctor consultations … “Normal” ways to gather with friends, explore new places, meet new people – all put on indefinite hold. Traditional sources of nourishment for minds, bodies and souls – clubs, classes, gyms, museums, concerts, discussion groups, even EUU retreats and worship services – all erased from our calendars in one swipe, it seemed.
(Note: If you don’t want to consider ZOOM activities, scroll down for other suggestions.)
But we bounced back. Maybe a small bounce, but humans are resilient, and online technology afforded social solutions most of us had not dreamed of until they became a necessity for keeping us “sane”. Guided museum tours, theater productions, concerts, favorite musicians playing in their kitchens and living rooms…all online. Churches created ZOOM worship services and activities. Online weddings and memorial services are now commonplace. Political conventions and inauguration events were virtual this year!
Along with savoring the creative explosion that gave us new ways to be together came a realization that online activities, although not a perfect substitute for real-life gatherings, actually have some advantages. We realized that some people had been excluded from events because of cost or time or physical ability. It felt good to have our circle widened.
EUU is no exception. In April, I wasn’t the only one to realize the opportunities when John and I joined Shulamit’s extremely successful ZOOM Passover Seder and shared a meal and a ritual with fellow UUs across Europe. That led to online solstice celebrations and the amazing Virtual Fall Festival. And, for the first time, members who couldn’t attend a retreat were able to participate in the Annual Meeting and Town Hall open discussion. Our fellowships learned to create online worship services. I’ve certainly appreciated being able to “visit” other fellowships, enjoying the worship and coffee hour chats with fellow EUUers.
Our next online retreat will be in April, but while we wait, informal social events like the EUU Morning Drop-In and the Tuesday Evening Cheer continue: bring a glass or cup and drop by to see who’s there. Paris opens its Friday Happy Hour to the rest of us, including those in North America. These are casual events, where you will be welcomed.
The future is promising, but uncertain. While we wait, we can create new ways to entertain ourselves and be together. The EUU Book Club is now entering its 7th year, but we have room for more ZOOM activities. If you have an idea for a one-time or recurring event, write to email@example.com. For example, would you like to discuss a specific book or TV series or film? Talk to other EUU parents about family life during lockdown? Watch a film or concert together and then discuss it? What about a virtual wine or beer or chocolate tasting? If you’ve got an idea, we can help you make it happen.
Some people mourn the loss of personal contact but have not explored online possibilities. If you have hesitated to join in because you haven’t tried ZOOM yet, or you have found it confusing, please don’t let that stop you. If you want to try the Morning Drop-In or another ZOOM activity, let me know and someone can help walk you through it.
There are other ways to be in touch
When you wonder how someone is doing, reach out. Phone, send an email or message, even surprise someone by using paper and a stamp (though in Denmark, as prices go up and letter boxes disappear, that is a less appealing option these days – it costs me over 4 euros to send a postcard to Sweden, which I can see across the water from my local beach).
If you use Facebook, remember our EUU Facebook group Many EUU fellowships, along with our Social Action group, have their own Facebook groups or pages.
If email is more to your liking, make sure you are subscribed to our email conversation list, euu-l. If you like poetry, note that each weekend, I post a poem to start and to end the sharing of joys and concerns. Subscribe here.
Days are getting longer; light is returning. Spring will come. And the pandemic and lockdowns will end. While we wait, let’s take advantage of the ways we can still share time and thoughts with one another. There are people waiting for you to join them online. Give it a try, if you haven’t already. Or drop someone a line. Call someone. We’re in this together. Let’s stay in touch.