Loving Neighbours in the Crisis of Covid-19

As the whole world grapples with new realities forced on us by the Coronavirus, a growing movement of people in every country are intentionally exploring how we can love each other in the face of this crisis.  This question is of course front and centre for all of us who are people of faith.

When Edmonton’s Interfaith Housing Initiative first formed, we signed on to a joint statement that says,
“Our religious and spiritual communities share important values: respect for human dignity, solidarity with those who are poor and vulnerable, and an affirmation of the importance of inclusive and welcoming communities where individuals and families can thrive.”  From CRIHI’s Interfaith Statement (2011)

In times of crisis (such as war, famine, disease) a society experiences new and terrible pressures that strain resources and relationships.  The poor, the powerless and the vulnerable tend the suffer the most severely.  Communities can become paralyzed by fear and no longer welcoming to the stranger.  Human dignity too can be surrendered with people lost in a creeping darkness.

But there is always choice when the darkness comes.  We can either shut everything down and curse the darkness, or we can choose to (in ways large or small) be a source of light.  If we study any of the great pandemics and times of devastation in human history, we will always find these people of light.  They quietly moved among the sick and despondent in the death camps of the holocaust or in the devastation of terrible plagues.  They put the well-being of others before their own, even risking themselves for the good of another; not without precautions or foolishly putting others at risk, but by finding ways to care for people in the midst of a terrible struggle..

Today, those places of darkness are most often in our living rooms and those of our neighbours.  It takes the form of loneliness, stress and anxiety, depression, fear, or any of the many challenges that when people experience a decline in basic supports mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Social distancing is without question, the most effective way to slow the virus and protect our most vulnerable.  But in and around that we need to find ways to care for each other.  To help us do that, Interfaith Housing Initiative is glad to provide a postcard to help people gently make those local connections with neighbours.  Our postcard is inspired by and in line with that shared in the #viralkindness movement which began in Australia.  We have added prayer to the list as an important way we can provide spiritual care for each other as neighbours.

Please feel free to download and share this resource with your faith communities.  Caring for each other where we are and sharing our life and resources (even from a distance) is a powerful way to protect the life and health of ourselves and our neighbours.  It also helps take some of the burden off our emergency service providers.

A download of the file is available at the following link:  Neighbouring with Covid

We recommend the following as a way to encourage Neighbouring in your faith community:

  1. Print off cards and deliver them in a batch of ten to twenty to members of your faith community.
  2. Make the file available to people via email so that they can print off more as need be, or share with people in their circle (friends, families or neighbours) who would like to practice this as well.
  3. Encourage everyone who uses the cards to see this as a way to form simple, supportive, caring relationships with their neighbours.

May this tool serve us well on our collective path of love and service to each other as neighbours,

From all of us at Edmonton’s Interfaith Housing Initiative

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