How have you been changed?
First of all, I don't want to sound as if I believe God put this pandemic in our paths in order that we might learn something from it. Everyone has their own belief systems, and I happen to believe there are simply some things that happen in life, and if we have faith in God, we will move through it as serenely as possible. Again, that doesn't rule out dying, by the way. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Dave and I didn't pray for me to "not die" from cancer. What we prayed for on a daily basis was the ability to handle each "next right thing" we needed to do with His guidance and without anxiety. The reason we held this belief is because if we didn't, it sort of sounds like, "If you pray hard enough, or you have enough prayer warriors rooting for you, you won't die." What does that say if I had died? Those prayer warriors didn't do the prayers it right or enough? That isn't how the God of my understanding works. While it might initially sound a bit selfish, I am actually praying for ME. Yep, you read that correctly. What I mean is: I am praying that I might remember, at all times and in all situations, that I am right-sized. I am no more important nor no less important than the next guy in line to the Pearly Gates. And so, every singly morning, as I roll (sometimes literally) out of bed and onto my little "kneeler" by my bed, I pray for God to direct my thinking for just that day. I ask Him to remove my shortcomings, so I can better serve those people who I meet along my journey for that day. The serenity prayer is my constant ending:
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference
And therein lies the rub. I can do the first two parts pretty well....it's that wisdom to know the difference with so many things that happen in my life. Is it God upon who I am relying or is it my own flawed brain telling me to do this or that? For instance, should I get my butt out of bed to go running, or should I stay curled up under our duvet? Okay, not really. I am not talking about that kind of decision (although our duvet is so comfortable, we sometimes are up and dressed before Kirby comes out of his burrowing spot where he has taken up residence at my feet under the covers for the night). I'm talking about those decisions about job opportunities, whether I am led to offer more assistance to those in need, what I can do to make education for traditionally underserved students (and teachers) better, etc.
But as we have moved into this COVID-19 Twilight Zone reality, we have learned a few things. First and foremost, it is perfectly acceptable to be on a Zoom call while still in pajamas. Second of all, people are clearly worried that an airborne virus is going to give them bowel issues (thus, the run on toilet paper----no pun intended). Next, and this really is the crux of my blog: we really can make do with a lot less than we thought we could. In fact, there are so many amazing stories out on the internet that I know mine won't measure up, but here is what has happened to Dave and me:
1. We have been asked (maybe because we are about 10 - 15 years younger than the average parishioners at our church) to step up to the plate and help out a bit more. Each Sunday, a VERY skeletal crew goes to church to set up for Facebook Live and a webinar version of church. While I used to do the readings (from the Gospel, etc.), I have been asked to "man" the Zoom chat for parishioners who need help getting on, etc. And Dave is now reading! Wait, that sounded bad, didn't it---like, "Look, you guys, Dave has actually learned to read! Well done, bloke!" What I mean is that, since I Zoom a bunch for work, that is my niche and he has been asked by Rev. Debra to read passages from scripture. We adore this small church that has been our "home" for about 2 1/2 years, but recently, we have gotten to get to know more folks and help in ways we might not have before this virus came along.
2. Our dogs truly love us. Obviously, we knew that already, but this pandemic has helped us find more time to curl up with them (especially with Rudy, as she is aging quickly and has medical issues---we adore finding more time to spend hugging on her and loving on her).
3. We have begun binge-watching "The Blacklist"---why, for all of my friends out there, have you not talked me into checking this Netflix series out before now? We are hooked!
4. We are grateful for the little things SO much more---Zoom happy hours with Dave's family, video chats with girlfriends of mine from college, seeing how people step up to the plate to make what used to be "live" events simply move seamlessly to online events.
5. I'm doing two book studies---one with my niece and grandniece and one (starting next week, and there's still room) on Jeanine Cummins' book, "American Dirt" (RUN, don't walk, to find a copy----it is truly heart-wrenching, action-packed, and drama-filled, you will not be able to put it down).
People say they've encountered hoarders at the supermarkets; people who are "Zoom-bombing" AA meetings by shouting out "Who wants a shot of Jim Beam???"; longer times for packages to arrive; longer than usual wait time to get customer service to help with business issues; and the list goes on. What I say is, "There will always be people who are doing things I may not love, but it is my own fault if I let those people or things block the sunlight of the Spirit".
I am thankful to all my friends, family, co-workers, partners in consulting work for schools and districts, and I am EXTREMELY confident they are all doing the very best they can. But what happens when we're allowed to return to "business as usual"? How long will it take us to forget these poignant moments that seem so sacred during this unprecedented time? I hope it will take us a long, long time. I pray we can keep the memory of what we are doing for one another "green" long after people take off their masks and gloves. Rachel Platten's song, "Fight Song" was there for me during my breast cancer struggles. I hope you can find some peace in it as well (and the wisdom to know the difference).
What about you? I'd love to hear your good-news stories. Please feel free to share them with me!!
Happy Communicating (and wash your hands!),
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