Holy Cats, Batman!
To All the Saints of Austin:
A week ago today, I passed a milestone as Interim Rector at All Saints’: Having started on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, I hit the 388 day mark seven days ago. So what? Well, half that is 194 days. And I had been your Interim Rector for exactly that many days when we received official word that we needed to stop in-person gatherings. Like many people, I thought it would be brief. But as of today, I’ve been your Quarantine Interim Rector for one week longer than I ever was your in-person Interim Rector.
That saddens me. But it also impresses me to consider your own fortitude and resilience. Being with you and working in this particular vineyard with you, even under quarantine, is such a privilege. I am so pleased to serve with you.
One thing that makes interim work difficult during the pandemic is that the days now are gone when I could simply say, “Well, what do y’all usually do? Oh? Let’s do that.” There is no “usually” anymore. Even the smallest tasks and processes have to be invented from scratch. And some things fall through the cracks.
Here’s an example: The Blessing of the Animals. The traditional day to do that is St. Francis Day, Oct. 4, which is this Sunday. I’ve had conversations with several people, and there are multiple opinions about how we should manage that, or whether we should do it at all. There is no consensus, but the input has been very helpful. So with apologies for the very short notice, here’s what I’m planning to do:
Sunday afternoon from 1-2, Travis, Steve, and I will be available on the south lawn of the church. We’ll have one or more “mushers” (ushers for dogs and other pets) to direct the flow of participants, ensure masking and social distancing, and pets and their humans to come forward for a contact-free blessing. On a space-available basis, we will admit more than one household at a time onto the south lawn so that we can bless animals in groups. The reason for trying for groups and for avoiding “drive-through pet blessing” is not to hurry things along, but to preserve, as much as is possible and safe, a sense of community. God’s blessing is something we experience in each other, and not in private transactions.
While you’re waiting, you’re welcome to get out of your car and stay in the parking lot if that’s more comfortable, as long as you’re maintaining 10-foot minimum distancing from other households. Because the pavement may be hot enough to be painful for animals, you may want to consider street parking so your pets can walk on grass instead of concrete.
Masks and 10-foot distancing between households, including animals, is required at all times. Please follow the directions of the “mushers” to help maintain safety and a positive experience for everyone.
Pre-registration is required, and it’s easy. Just visit https://allsaintsaustin.brushfire.com/service/480042 to let us know you’re coming. If the numbers are high, we’ll extend beyond 2 p.m. and let you know.
Note that when you register, you’ll be asked for emergency contact info for EACH person participating so that we can notify you if we learn that any participant has tested positive for COVID-19 within two weeks of this event. By registering, you are agreeing to let us know immediately if you know or suspect that you are COVID-19 positive within two weeks of the event. Your registration also affirms your willingness to wear a mask at all times, maintain 10-foot minimum distance from other households, and to follow the safety and traffic flow instructions of clergy and “mushers.”
We’re looking forward to seeing you this Sunday for worship at 10:30 a.m. central time at https://allsaints-austin.org/live-worship, and Sunday afternoon at All Saints’ for Blessing of the Animals!