“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus
A Note from Pastor Christen
I last stood in Peace’s pulpit on June 26th to preach. And then I began eight weeks of unpaid leave and vacation days.
I requested that time off because I knew that I was tired. And I knew that my brain needed to be in neutral for a while. I also knew that I had been struggling with exhaustion and brain fog since the spring. I requested the leave after a Sunday morning when I missed sharing three announcements, lost a page of my sermon, and forgot someone’s name. What I now know is that I have been struggling with all the symptoms of post-Covid brain fog. I was hiding it well, or maybe not always so well. At the end of that leave, I knew that I wasn’t ready to come back into the real world of pastoring, preaching, administrating, and being present. And so, after consultation with several doctors I began the process of requesting short-term disability. I just wanted to let you all know. I wanted to be vulnerable and honest and open with you. I wanted to stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Because the truth is that right now, my brain still searches for words. I railroad off into different conversations and can’t remember what I said before and then pause and say, “So, yeah…” and let that trail off. I have days where my body and brain are so, so tired. I have days when I can’t remember why I opened the refrigerator or walked into the next room. I have moments when I forget how to spell a word or can’t sleep at night because my Circadian rhythms are completely out of sync. I have learned to rely on notes to myself, and timers to remind me of things, and I text myself messages to remind myself later of ideas.
But the good news is that my brain will heal. The studies are still slowly emerging of the brain fog that some long-haul Covid folks endure. My physicians assure me that the fog goes away little by little, that usually, a few months allow the amazing synapses in my brain to reconnect and the neural pathways to keep up their steady pace again. And I can already start to see the trajectory of my healing. Little by little. Inch by inch. More good days than bad ones. Moreover, I have a better understanding of the sacredness of living in the present moment in a way I never have before. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t sleep, and so at 3:00 in the morning I made my way out to my front porch, lit some candles, and ended up watching a spider weave her web. It ended up being sacred time.
One afternoon after a sleepless night I took a pillow and made a bed for myself on the office floor where our house rabbit plopped down next to me and licked my ears. It was sacred time. One evening I spoke with one of my closest friends and said, “My brain is just broken,” and she said, “And now you have more compassion.” Those are sacred words.
My convoluted brain wrote all these words when what I want to say is simply this: I miss you. I’ll be back soon. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your compassion. May you feel God’s sacredness surrounding you. All shall be well.
President’s Minute, Amy Barrett:
Dear Peace Family,
We are on the cusp of Autumn, and there has been a hint of things to come in the cool evenings and mild days of this past week. Of course, we know that in Indiana, this is not a steady trajectory. There are likely to be many more warm days ahead, maybe even an Indian Summer, before the cooler temperatures really settle in. It strikes me as I write this that we have a parallel situation at Peace.
As most of you already know, Pastor Christen continues to heal from Long Covid and has not been able to be among us for some time. We were looking forward to her return but, unfortunately, the trajectory has not been as steady as we (and she) would have liked. As with the changing of the seasons, we anticipate that things will eventually become steady again and we will return to something more like what we are used to and are comfortable with.
There is an article elsewhere in this newsletter that does a wonderful job of explaining what we know of Long/Long-Haul Covid, which is not actually a whole lot at this point. Pastor Christen is experiencing many of the symptoms described in the article and has been diligent in seeking care that will allow her to return to us. This disease is unpredictable, however, so an exact date
has yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, we have much to celebrate. Pastor Kate Howard and Pastor Kathleen O’Connell have each been a wonderful blessing indeed during this time. Their uplifting and inspiring presence has done much to ease the sting of not having Christen among us. Pastor Kate will be filling in on Sundays for the next three weeks as well, so we will continue to have a familiar and comforting presence with us.
Church activities are resuming as they would in any other Autumn. Both Adult and Children’s Christian Education are beginning again this Sunday, the 18th. The castle that Lorie and Bekki have made makes me want to be a kid again. The book that Brian is covering is our start to
becoming a WISE congregation, a significant and important endeavor. The Celebration Choir is practicing again and is eagerly anticipating our first Anthem! Chris Campbell is using her energy and creativity to create the very newsletter that you are reading. The Lunch Bunch is meeting. The prayer chain and care committee are carrying on as strong as ever. If I tried to list all the good things that are continuing at Peace, there would be no space for anything else!
My dear ones, we have been through a lot, of this there is no question. But we are a resilient bunch. We also have strong bonds to one another and to Peace. Let’s move forward bravely and with love. We can do this.
All my love,
Rally Day is this Sunday!
Hello Peace Families!
Bekki and I are excited to tell you that Sunday School begins this Sunday, September 18, 2022! We are using a Vacation Bible School Curriculum called “Knights of North Castle”. The theme is from Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power.” We will focus on fiver different lessons this Sunday School year. Our journey begins with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Contact Lorie Krouse with any questions you have. We look forward to seeing everyone soon!
Adult Education Class is starting!
Adult Education Class starts this Sunday! We’ll be meeting at 9am for coffee, baked treats, and a discussion centered on the book, “Blessed Are The Crazy” by UCC Minister Sarah Griffith Lund. You can pick up your own copy of the book at Amazon. It is part of an overall effort to earn our WISE designation, presented by the United Church of Christ to congregations dedicated to ministering to those with mental illness. I look forward to great conversations and smiling faces.
We welcome Janet Welch as our new Administrative Assistant!
Janet Welch grew up Baptist and graduated from Concordia Lutheran High School in 1994. Later she went back to school to fulfill her childhood dream and became a Licensed Veterinarian Technician. She moved to Kentucky and worked as a Vet Tech for several years. In 2015 she was led back to Fort Wayne and onto a new path as the church secretary of First Baptist Church of Fort Wayne. She has worked part time at First Baptist Church since then and added another part time job when she began at Salem United Church of Christ. She believes that Peace UCC is where she is supposed to be along life’s journey. Janet got married in 2021. She and her husband live on her family’s farm; the place where she was raised. In her spare time, Janet enjoys her menagerie of animals, doing home projects, gardening, entering cat shows with her cats, traveling with her husband, and relaxing on a lake Michigan beach. Janet’s hours will be Monday thru Thursday from 8:30 – 2:00 each day. Stop by soon and visit with her! Janet’s first day of work was delayed by a positive Covid-19 test and we hope she will be well enough to begin the week of September 26th. We wish her healing prayers.
Growing Hope Globally Harvest Celebration – October 22nd
We will be joining our partner congregations for a worship service at 11 am, with lunch following at noon. This will be held at Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren, 1993 County Road 8, Ashley, IN 46705. We are praying for a meaningful time together with our friends from
Growing Hope Globally and special guests from Columbia.
Val Kline, Pastor, Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren
Loretta Pasquali 1, Rosann Thayer 3, Carl Bauer 7, Mike Krouse 8, Bev Haupert 8, Marcy Blundall 11, Ryan Mallory 13, Barb Bauer 14, Tim Jones 16, Lynn Zacharias 16, Randy Metzger 17, Aubrey Eckert 19, Jed Tompkins 21, Jordan Lockwood 21, Judith Beineke 22
Prayer Concerns: Pastor Christen
Pastor Christen is currently on leave from Peace as she struggles with long-haul Covid. If you’d like to know more about this medical condition, you can find information here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otg1kuUHrrM
We look forward to her return to us soon.
Sonya Yoder-Beery as she continues to undergo treatment for cancer.