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In Isolation: March 22, 2020, “Simply to Be”

COVID-19: This time of isolation from family, friends and communities puts a strain on all of our lives. One important family in my life is the choir for which my teammate, Lonnie Moddle, and I provide leadership at Brechin United Church in Nanaimo BC. It didn’t take long to recognize how important the connection with ‘our’ singers was to me and I was quickly seeking ways to stay in touch. Ultimately, I decided to email them a message a day focussing on hymn and song lyrics created by my various writing partners. As these things tend to go, I was soon receiving requests from beyond the choir to be “included on the list.” So… I am continuing to send my daily message via my “Letter to the Brechinites”, but Christina is posting the messages here on our Musiklus blog. If there are others you know who might find these useful or helpful, please make them aware of the address. It is not necessary to be a subscriber or purchaser of music to view these. We’re simply making them available to any and all who find them useful during this confusing time. Those who know me well are aware that I have many hundreds of these texts to which I’ve set music over the years. My prayer is that I won’t need to exhaust that supply.

There is learning to be had in this discouraging, frightening time of forced isolation if we are open to receiving it. I feel strongly that one of the many things we take for granted in our ‘normal’ rushing about from meetings… to shopping… to appointments… to… is the very gift of life. Like so many things, the preciousness of it rarely becomes apparent to us until either a) we experience loss of life of relative, friend or acquaintance, or b) we allow ourselves moments of quiet, undistracted reflection.

In 2006, Shirley Murray sent me a poem she had just written which she referred to as “a meditation intended to slow me down”. It is titled “Simply to Be”. In recent days I’ve called on those words to feed my spirit, to ease anxiety and to give thanks for all those with whom I am unable to be physically present.

As I read these lines, I find they provide a calming effect. I hope they are equally useful to some of you. 

Simply to be, to be in stillness,
simply to trust that God is here,
simply to know the Holy Presence,
is to be blessed:
so am I blessed,

simply to hold the given moment,
simply to lay concern aside,
simply to let the heart be speaking,
is to be blessed:
so am I blessed,

so am I blessed within God’s keeping,
so am I freed from pointless stress,
steadied to feel the soul replenished,
given this grace,
folded in peace.

Words by Shirley Erena Murray
Copyright © 2006 by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, Illinois • USA