Be careful: If you come here, you will grow!
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
Easthampton, MA

A note from the Rev. Michael A. Bullock
Dear Folks:

Two Wednesdays ago, in the gloaming of the evening, amidst unsubstantiated reports of flying monkeys aloft, hurricane force winds ripped through the Valley, driving a drenching rainfall, to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning. Fortunately, these events did not last too long. All was quiet in less than twenty minutes, but trees were knocked down, power lines snapped, and – horror of horrors – many lost internet connection. During all this, Bev was at work at the library. So, when she called me in the post-storm context and I heard her shaky voice say, “It’s me”, my immediate reaction to her was, “Are you alright?” While shaken and a bit stirred, she was safe and sound, save for the fact that she was calling me to report that a huge branch on an old maple tree had been broken off by the wind and that the hefty limb had plopped on the passenger side of her year-old car.

I drove the two miles to the Williamsburg library to find Bev and two of her staff tarping the roof of her car.  The limb had smashed the sunroof, broken off the right-side mirror, and crumpled the passenger door closed, along with the right-front fender and hood.  (Fortunately, the thunderbolt painted on the car’s side was not touched.  Just kidding…)   I drove Bev home, where she immediately called our insurance company to start the claims process.

One of the things that we needed to do was to find a body shop that we could trust to do the repair work.  While one hopes not to have enough experience to know which body shop to use, Bev nonetheless, made a Google search and then started to make some phone calls.  To both of our amazements, body shops were taking appointments for body work in December!  What!  What is this about?  In talking to one very helpful body shop man, I heard Bev ask this question, wondering if this back-log was a function of the pandemic’s isolation: That folks just had too much time at home, and in looking at the little dings on their cars, decided to get some work done.  But as interesting a speculation as this might be, it did not relate to the reality.  The body shop guy said that all his colleagues and competitors were booked solid largely because of the fact that people were so distracted as they drove.  The pandemic and its residual ramifications have been a big distraction – not only for drivers but for all of us — Another example of the frog adjusting to the increasingly hot water and calling it “normal”.

I mention this distraction among us to name the “demon” in hopes that naming it will decrease its power over us.  I also mention the pandemic’s distractions to remind all of us that showing up (even remotely) as church, to share worship, to offer prayers, to experience that we are not alone or on our own is an antidote to the corrosive and pernicious effect of the distractions.  I also mention the distractions to you, as I channel my inner “Hill Street Blues” precinct sergeant, who after gathering the troops for morning assignments on the streets, would always end his remarks with a warm smile and an earnest admonition to “be careful out there!”  (Remember that great cop show?)

So, be careful out there.  I love you and so does God.  Now hit the streets!


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