Guest commentary: Valley groups helping community take time to reflect on pandemic |

Guest commentary: Valley groups helping community take time to reflect on pandemic

Rita Marsh and Nicholas Vesey
Guest commentary

This Pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But it is more than that. It is a once-in-100-years experience.

And yet that last pandemic, the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919 that killed 20 million to 40 million people (more than were killed in the entire World War I) barely impinges on our national memory.

Now, it is just a footnote to that history: The great crash, the depression and even prohibition cast a much longer shadow than that last pandemic.

Will this one be the same? Will it be a happening that is sandwiched between the birth of the internet and whatever fate will bring us over the next decade?

The difference between these two great plagues is of course the arrival of global communications that has enabled this current iteration to bore a much larger hole into our consciousness.

But unless we learn the lessons that we are offered by this last year, life will go on very much as before.

In the case of the first pandemic this led, ultimately, to World War II. Hopefully, we will do better this time.

Which is why some of the communities in our valley who nurture the human spirit are asking you to pause and reflect Saturday.

From Lead with Love, to The Bahá’í community, to the Catholic churches in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, to Jewish communities, the Episcopal community in Basalt, the Buddhist community and A Spiritual Center in Carbondale, Aspen Shakti and other spiritual communities of the valley are coming together for the first time in recent memory and saying “Let’s think about this.”

Let’s not just carry on surviving until we get through it all, but let’s pause and reflect about what has happened, and how we might do things differently in the future.

Let’s think about those we have lost, those who are grieving, and those who are still ill, or in fear. Those without medical help, those in financial need, and those who feel like giving up.

Let’s think about their pain, and ours, and let’s acknowledge it from the depths of our hearts.

Let’s write to those we have been meaning to get in touch with, let’s pray for those we do not know, and let’s ponder the future.

Not about how quickly we can get back to normal, but how we might behave differently? What might we have learned? What might we put into practice? How might we live in a way that is more sustainable, and in a way that marks a shift in the way we treat each other and world itself.

Because if the pandemic has done anything it has done away with the idea that problems and issues are contained by national borders. China’s problems are our problems, and our problems will affect everyone else. The idea that when America sneezes the world catches a cold has never been truer.

So, we are inviting you to drop in (or out) and take some time Saturday, on the Spring Equinox: the perfect time for us to look from the dark to the light.

From noon till 2 p.m. churches, synagogues, spiritual centers, yoga studios and peace gardens will be open. There will also be a live feed to visit at

You do not have to go to any of these places, maybe do it in your home. Or out on the mountain. But wherever you are, ask yourself these two questions: What have I learned? And, what am I going to do differently?

Then perhaps this current pandemic will be more than a footnote to the early 21st century. It will be more like a turning point.

It is up to us to make that happen.

Rita Marsh is the co-founder of The Center for Human Flourishing and Nicholas Vesey is the minister of the Aspen Chapel.


Participating communities in the March 20 event (those with addresses have their space open for in-person reflection):

Aspen/Snowmass: Lead with Love; Aspen Shakti (535 E. Hyman Ave.); St. Mary Catholic Church (533 E Main St.); Aspen Jewish Community Center (435 W. Main St.); The Aspen Chapel & The Aspen Jewish Congregation (77 Meadowood Drive); Aspen Community Church; Snowmass Chapel (5307 Owl Creek Road)

Basalt: St Peter’s of the Valley (200 Elk Run Drive)

Carbondale: The Way of Compassion Dharma Center; The Center for Human Flourishing, aka Davi Nikent; A Spiritual Center (Suite 31 Third Street Center); True Nature, in the Peace Garden (100 N. Third St.); Bahá’í Faith of The Roaring Fork Valley; Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist.

Glenwood Springs: St. Stephen Catholic Church (1885 Blake Ave.)