Gov. Cuomo Just Appointed Me To The NY State Interfaith Advisory Council

CHURCH CHURCH CHURCH CHURCH CHURCH

This morning, Wednesday, May 20th, at a press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, to an Interfaith Advisory Council that is charged with, among other things, looking into the reopening of houses of faith. We will keep you posted on the progress of the Interfaith Advisory Council.

The press has already been contacting me asking about opening for worship, funerals, and weddings. But let us not forget about how to enforce social distancing with six year old kids in a Sunday school, mosque or synagogue. And how about changing diapers in the nursery, or singing by the choir or congregation (singing has been likened to coughing as regards germ/virus spread). Don’t forget to ask about using books of scripture and song. What do we do about our food pantries and soup kitchens? At our church we have (until we closed it abruptly with the onset of the pandemic) a free hair salon and mobile shower unit. Will they ever reopen? Under what conditions?

I was asked by a television team today what my number one issue on the agenda will be. My answer was, “To remain civil and allow each other to have doubts, unanswerable questions, and other reflections of living in a pandemic the likes of which no person on the Governor’s Advisory Council was even alive to experience the last time it happened in America.”

Whether you are a religious person or not ~ pray for and with us. May God have mercy on us all as we strive to do our best. And may God ~ however we conceptualize, define, understand or misunderstand God ~ may this God guide our feet as we trod this rocky path that leads us home.

Peace & Health,

Dwight Lee Wolter

Loneliness Taught Me Today That…

no makeup

Here I am as I am, wearing no makeup. In full disclosure, I never wear makeup ~ but that does not alter the fact that here I am wearing no makeup. I offer this photo of myself with no makeup today as I think of a young friend who posted a photo of herself on social media; revealing a part of herself to the world that she usually keeps to herself and her partner.

She posted a closeup of what she looks like when working from home, self-quarantined during a global pandemic. No need to dress up her face. No standing in front of the bathroom mirror separating lashes and drawing a black line of demarcation at the border of her bottom eyelids. No color added to her cheeks. No nothing. Au naturel.

“Here I am as I am” her photo seems to proudly, quietly, proclaim. She revealed a part of herself that until then had remained concealed. The photo also revealed her as bold, defiant and proud. I could see it in her eyes. The photo also revealed a shy trepidation about having posted the revelatory photo. I could see that too in her eyes.

This revelation of identity reminds me of some young parents-to-be who host Reveal Parties at which they announce the gender of their child. It also reminds me of people gathered in parks and museums in front of statues covered in cloth. They wait until lofty words offered by dignitaries finally end and then the cloth is released, and it falls to the ground and the finished product is revealed. “Here I am as I am” the statue seems to proudly, quietly, proclaim.

Loneliness hosts a reveal party also. It wipes away the way I wish to be perceived and allows people to see me as I most often am. Loneliness releases the cover I drape over myself and reveals what lies underneath. “Here you are as you are” it says to us.

Loneliness has taught me today that I need not makeup or coverup parts of myself to appease or please you. I confess that sometimes, particularly in the morning, I look in the bathroom mirror and am startled or disappointed by the person I see there. “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”  Sometimes I look in the mirror and see the face of loneliness. Sometimes that is not the face I want to see, but it is the face I reluctantly see.

Sometimes people do look better when adorned with makeup. Maybe I should try it. Sometimes statues do make people seem taller, bolder, and better looking than they are. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as I do not fail to see and accept the person behind the mask and under the things I drape over myself to manipulate my identity.

Loneliness humbles me as any great teacher and friend would. It helps me to see and accept myself just as I am.

My latest book is “Loneliness Book of World Records” and it is a lighthearted, yet serious look at the curious gifts that loneliness can provide ~ it invited, welcomes and accepted. Here is a link by which to order through Amazon in kindle or paper:

FASHION TIPS for Self-Quarantine During a Global Pandemic: #(2)

FASHION TIPS for Self-Quarantine During a Global Pandemic: (2) When I was a little boy, my mother took me on her knee and said, “When you grow up, if there is ever a global pandemic that effectively shuts down New York and much of the world ~ make sure your facemask matches your shirt.” Thanks, Mom! Rest in peace.

My health may (or may not) be taken from me. My wallet may (possibly) be depleted. But if my sense of humor, self-respect and resilience leave me ~ call the undertaker. And tell him or her to make sure my shirt is not wrinkled.

By the way, I have a new book out on amazon, available in kindle and paper. It is titled, “Loneliness Book of World Records” by Dwight Lee Wolter (that be me. I use all three names). I won’t tell you how truly fun, inspiring and yet deferential to the seriousness of loneliness during this pandemic.  It is also not a pandemic book. Anyway, take a look. fashion tips 2

Fashion Tips for Self-Quarantine During a Global Pandemic

“FASHION TIPS for Self-Quarantine During a Global Pandemic” is a series I will post whenever so inspired during the COVID19 pandemic. Today, I begin with…

(1) Do not slouch around the house in pajamas and a robe just because you can. Even if working from home, with no one looking or caring ~ today is a special day! Another day to hope, love, care, share and more… is a good day. BTW, do you like my tie with ostriches wearing baseball caps? I do.

By the way, I have a new book out: “Loneliness Book of World Records” I will post more about it later, but if you wish to get a head start, here is the link to purchasing a kindle or paper version. I kept it affordable knowing that, for many, these are financial lean times. pandemic fashion

WE CELEBRATED “COMMUNION” WITH CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS & JELLY BEANS

Children Zoom photo

WE CELEBRATED “COMMUNION” WITH CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS, SKIDDLES & JELLY BEANS during our Congregational Church of Patchogue Easter Sunday Children Church Chat Zoom Meeting. The kids held up the Easter eggs I had sent them to color in. They showed & told about Easter baskets & dinner in their homes & about the first Easter & what it might mean today to see new life arise from deadly situations. There are grownups in our church who have not missed an Easter service in 50, 60, 70 years. Many of these kids have not missed an Easter service in our church in their entire lives. They were so happy to see each other once again. The rituals of church are patterns that the kids find comfort in. Showing and telling; laughing; raising their virtual hand on their screen; listening to Mr. Craig sing and play music for them as he does each Sunday ~ all of this and more makes an impression on their souls; calms their minds; mitigates their fear and isolation. We formed and are continuing to form our own little church. The door to the chapel is their laptop or cellphone. Different church, same Jesus. Our bodies were in separate homes ~ but our spirits were in the same place, if only for 30 minutes.

Bless, Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter

NOAH & CO. QUARANTINE AGAINST A FLOOD OF COVID19

Noah ark kids

Noah was going about his business one day ~ thinking about food, family, work, politics and whatnot ~ when God spoke to him and said that something horrendous was about to break loose. It wasn’t exactly a global pandemic; but it might as well have been. It was going to be a flood, the likes of which would change the world! Deniers, cynics, politicians and religious leaders had their doubts ~ but God trusted Noah to act promptly and decisively. God instructed Noah to build an ark (read: big boat). Noah replied that there was so little water in their neck-of-the-globe that they even named puddles! Just kidding. God was not in the mood for lousy jokes.
Noah went to work on the ark. He gathered his family and two representatives of every living creature ~ along with some vegetables, fruits, flowers, weeds and house plants. Even mosquitoes. Almost forgot to mention spiders.
People thought Noah was nuts. Paranoid. Delusional. Thought it was a hoax; a prank; a lie. Even Noah wasn’t completely sure. But God had a plan. And Noah had a timely, thoughtful and somewhat expensive response. Lumber has never been cheap. But Noah’s labor was his gift to God and to the world. Even if they didn’t say thank you.
The ark was built. Human and other creatures entered, reluctantly. The first official complaints were about sleeping accommodations and the smell. Oh, the smell!
Even as the flood waters rose about the treetops ~ they hated staying indoors. Outdoors was no safe option, but they hated indoors nonetheless. Forty days is a long, long time to spend with the likes of giraffes, aardvarks and flies. Don’t you think? Tempers flared. People snored. All creatures great and small began to lose weight. Some people got seasick. A human cough sent ripples of fear through the ark. Children languished. Got better. Languished again. People tried and failed to keep social distance. Not being drowned was a plus; but survival was no picnic. Prayers and smoke floated ever upward. Some people choked on both. They formed a community; a little world floating atop a larger world. They settled-in against the shock of it all happening so fast. They lived on morsels of food, faith, hope and promise that things would get better. They waited. And they waited.
And they remembered. They remembered better times that were taken for granted: the feel of a leaf; of sand between toes; of drifting off to sleep with nothing particular on their mind. Then they woke with memory of the freakiness of what was happening. OMG! Was etched on the inside wall of the ark by someone who preferred to remain anonymous. They fought a strong impulse to hoard and withdraw into themselves. They couldn’t defend themselves against the realization that their wellbeing was, and perhaps always was, dependent on the wellbeing of others.
Eventually, the waters began to subside. A dove returned to the ark with a sprig of an olive breach in its beak. Land appeared. A rainbow appeared. The ark settled in the mud of earth, that was not yet solid and stable under their feet. We don’t know what the world looked like when they disemb-ark-ed. But the aftermath couldn’t have been pretty. The world was changed forever. So were they. Naturally.
The first thing Noah did when he stood on ground after over a month of quarantine and waiting-out-the-storm was to build an altar and thank God for their survival. They had made it! And we will too! The global crisis had affected their body; but it had not infected their soul. Their story of travail and survival has survived and for thousands of years has been available as our teacher. They way in which we suffer and survive together will change the world. Our willingness to sacrifice on behalf of each other and assist each other will also legendary. Pandemics and floods will come again in time. What we do and don’t do today will immensely help people tomorrow. Suffer well. And recover in joy and in peace.

I Too am a Boat, Partly Submerged; Partly Afloat

THERE IS A MARINA WHERE I GO TO WALK ALMOST DAILY TO RELIEVE ANXIETY, ETC. AND I FOUND THIS SINKING SHIP & I THOUGHT: This is not an omen. I too am a boat; partly submerged; partly afloat. Sometimes I am a mast with no sail; or a sail with no mast. Under my submerged parts you may find barnacles and grit. So what? I am a boat that has been around a while, and yet is still a candidate for restoration. I have found a humble port in a storm that shall pass. I may need your help bailing me out. But, together, we shall be released. Peace, Rev. Dwight Lee Wolterboat sinking

REMEMBER TOILET PAPER?

REMEMBER TOILET PAPER? In July, 2018, the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York, tried (and failed, but so what?) to build the World’s Largest Toilet Paper Pyramid at a street festival called Alive After Five that lasted between 5 and 9pm. We received no help from the makers of Scotts TP, even though we used only their product (septic-safe and we needed uniformity of size and density of rolls). But all together with volunteers, solicitors of TP at shopping centers by the Girl Scouts, etc. we had over 1,400 people involved. We had an engineer working on the project as well. Yes. an engineer. We built it; unbuilt it; and gave it all away in 4 hours to a homeless veteran home, a domestic violence shelter and various food pantries. We did this, in part, because toilet paper is classified as a “luxury” and cannot be written into grant requests. We will try to build it again this coming summer with the remnants of what people are now hoarding and will, by then, donate-it-forward. Peace, Dwight Lee WolterTP 2

Is It Okay to Give You Money Right Now? She Shouted from Across the Parking Lot.

“IS IT OKAY TO GIVE YOU SOME MONEY RIGHT NOW?” the woman in the distance shouted to me from across a parking lot. Well, that was a first. As I got closer, I recognized her. We have a mutual friend. She runs a cleaning business and was entering a club that is one of her customers. She wanted to help our “Soup Kitchen To-Go” program since the dining room is closed during the pandemic. She has difficulty getting cleaning supplies; people are cutting back on house cleaning; and still she reached into her pocket to help others. As we parted, I reminded her that our food pantry is available to her (as well as to you) ~ as things may (as always) get worse before they get better.Jean Marie