When What You Have is What You Need

Homily – Izzy Td – When What You Need Is What You Have
Presented virtually for First Parish of Watertown – August, 9th, 2020

Good Morning! Are you taking time to breathe? I hope that you all have some magic source in your lives – Making * All * Good * In * Chaos

We gather together this morning in the thick of on-going crazy times. By my count, we have entered our 6th month of socially diminished living. Many of us have lost income, loved ones, time with friends, adventures – certainly all of us have been missing peace of mind.

These have been times that make us all think twice about our resources – how to get them safely, how to make the most of them and how to share them.

Beth shared a memory this morning during chalice lighting of her Yankee mother’s philosophy of frugality. It is certainly one shared by my parents who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. My mother-in-law’s words remind me to be thoughtful in my actions and to make the most of what we have. And likewise, the story of ‘Stone Soup’ that Beth read this morning is one that I remember from childhood – It is a story whose lesson teaches that our resources used in community will always be greater than the sum of the resources that we squirrel away like survivalists. I think it also teaches that challenging difficulties can easily be solved in community. And as and aside, we recently made and shared a lovely stone soup with our closest neighbors, made with excess vegetables from our gardens and CSA.

But, in this era of Covid-19 Pandemic, the reality is that we have largely been asked/forced to hide ourselves away from community, and that has been hard on most of us. We have been robbed of humanity’s great gift of being together and I am aware that many of us have suffered much more from this than others.

It is not without hesitation, then, and a growing sense of paradox, that I have pondered the theme for today’s service for several months now.

Is What I Need Really What I Have?

With more than just a little survivor’s guilt, in the first two month of the Massachusetts shutdown, I was able to make use of the gift of time. I could not go to work as an in-home pet groomer, so I poured my energies into my music and my magic wand carving. I shared some wands with family and friends and that lifted spirits. I found that I was able to encourage family and friends to communicate regularly via Zoom and chat groups and that has helped us stay connected. I had time to learn new audio and video editing skills and was able to offer inspiration to musician friends to keep making and sharing music as best we could. Really, I was just a droplet in a cosmic wave of musicians and artist who have embraced technology as a way to keep sharing the arts.

I was also able to inspire and help our yoga teacher get started with teaching her classes over Zoom. It has been pure joy to welcome her into our living room twice a week – Beth & I have both embraced the calming energies of yoga over these past months, and we have especially come to love the pose called ‘Shavasana’ – the corpse pose – the pose where all you are asked to do is lie still on your back, to mediate on your breathing and to let rivers of relaxation flow through you.

Beth and I have also embraced the masked, distanced adventures outdoors – hiking in the woods, swimming at the Y outdoor pool, camping in the backyard, weeding in the garden, and even masking up for several protest marches – and between those good sources of Vitamin D and the hobbies and connections that I have maintained, I do have to say that in these difficult times, I have, indeed, had what I needed.

And yes, let’s be honest here. I have not had to witness the suffering of COVID-19 directly. I have not tried to entertain a young child while working. I have not lost a loved one. I have not found myself without sufficient financial resources. I find that I am one of the ‘Haves’ and not the ‘Have Nots’. But my heart does bleed for the ongoing suffering. And in the midst of this pandemic, I have also found what I need to understand this paradox of inequality.

The gift of community shared resources has been no more obvious to me than in the historic energies and teachings that have become visible through the efforts of all those fighting battles because Black Lives Matter. The anger and frustrations that have erupted are not new, but have been growing in new voice and respect. The resources to learn about decades of injustice and inequalities have suddenly been raised up – through social media, shared reading lists, phone camera witnessed abuses, grabbing masks and joining marches – teaching voices have been raised so loud that they have risen above the noise of pandemic distractions.

The fact is that I have not suffered in this pandemic because of Inequality and this is now plain for me to see. Really, for the first time in my life, I have been trying to take time to learn the painful, hard to watch background stories that are driving the current streams and screams for racial equality. I know, because I have asked, that many others at First Parish are also engaged in this work of learning.

My eyes are opening to my privileges and it is without a doubt a privilege to have what is needed.

And honestly, where all this leads me is right back to where I am. I want to help others where I can. I want to keep lifting my burden of ignorance and live with open eyes. I want to keep making music and magic and working to make all good in chaos. I want us all to stay healthy and to help each other in community. I want us all to live through to the other side of all that seems unjust today.

I hope that you all have what you need too. But if you don’t, please let me know if there is any way that I can help.

Please stay safe, so that we may all make it through to the Good on the Other Side!


About Respect The Paw

Izzy Tappan-deFrees is a compassionate animal groomer, a musician and songster, a teardrop camper lovin' traveler, a daughter, a wife & mom, a trail hiker, a campfire devotee, a wood carver, a student of spirit around the world, a good listener, a part-time poet and a former data analyst and programmer.
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