Who knew that I would struggle this much with quarantine. I love being at home. I love doing art and cooking and doing dishes. Vacuuming is fun. But when I am restricted home, it feels different. When my day is filled with silence, because there is no coffee shop atmosphere, there are no other people around, there is no one nearby, that’s different. I leave to work at my office a couple days a week so my wife, Karen, can have space at home. There’s no one at the office either. So, it is just moving the quarantine to another building. All this.
I’ve tried to plug-in, to be involved in points of connection, planned a class I helped lead all last week for 12 hours, attend meetings via zoom, schedule zoom worship times, etc, all this is great, connecting online is fine, but it is not the same. There are still missing links and ingredients. And after hours of it, my eyes ache the next day!
The bottom line is this: quarantine is difficult and challenging.
It has changed everyone’s rhythm. Some folk are busier than ever — I have felt that way with the learning curve it has taken to move so many things to online platforms. For others, life remains unchanged. They have simply moved their office home and continue. And still others, they have lost work and are facing difficulties that the government check will not solve. Such disparities. The demand for food from Meals on Wheels locally has increased by 450%. And our own food tents run out of food daily with the increased need.
The largest part of my heart just wants the quarantine to end, but I know that at least until the end of this month it will continue. The MONTH. What is this strange new season?
I was on an online webinar last week and one of the pastors named Scot wrote this in the chat: “When praying for my church 3 weeks ago, I prayed that we would be protected from the virus and that we would be able to continue to worship and God asked me, ‘Why?'”
What a powerful moment. Why.
That interchange struck me. What is the reason that I want life to return to normal? What was normal and what is abnormal about this current season? What does God want me to learn from being isolated, quarantined, limited in my ability to get out and be?
There are always lessons in life. But I am often a reluctant student! Unlike my grandson:
Sometimes our “go to” is to return to whatever is familiar. We all have losses. In worship yesterday in our discussion many shared the losses, the things they are having to release during this time in order to restore attention to Jesus. For some of the youth, it was the loss of baseball, Lacrosse, and other sporting events which do not only represent the loss of the game, but the loss of that valued aspect of family life, the connection with other players, the support of the family, and friends. The loss of “time” with friends. There were other losses — of work, of connection, of finances, of opportunities.
And others shared the gains — the time with family, family dinner, conversations at home, time, blessings, peace, calm, slower schedules, etc.
So, what would God have us learn?
I’m not going to be able to answer that question. I have no answer.
I just know that for me, sometimes, I feel absolutely lost by this season. I feel like I have no rudder even while pursuing all my new normal things. It is like I am adrift. This underlines how much routine was valued and how much I relished time with people over a table at a local coffee shop. The action of driving between appointments, the appointments themselves, the connections built, the opportunity to offer and receive that dynamic of love that happens when two or more people share. It shows the value and perhaps the identity I found there.
It is not due to a lack of activity — there is so much to “do” that I feel like I’d love some free time. But my losses seem to stem from a lack of actual, physical hugs. This is me saying this, who am fairly stable. I suppose that’s debatable.
I guess the question it has raised in my heart if I am dealing with huge levels of emotion and stress, how is it impacting others? How are others coping or not coping with this season? Locally the helpline calls have increased regarding domestic violence. What kinds of supports are people needing around us who are just as isolated but bumping up against larger points of darkness?
For you out there — I just want to tell you — you are not alone.
Others feel it too. It is tough to encounter these times and not know how to find our way through them. That’s one thing we all have in common — we do not know the end, nor how long this “new normal” will continue.
So, if there was anything to say it would be this —
- keep communicating with people by phone, text, email, and other means to express how you are doing.
- Keep aware of “stories” you tell yourself inside which are not true. It is easier to identify when a story in our heads is untrue, by writing it down and looking at it.
- Make sure there is rhythm in your day — like the rhythm we automatically keep with breathing — have ways you are breathing into your life what you need to sustain and support and encourage you, and, have ways to exhale, release from your life the beliefs, the attitudes, the feelings, the stresses which are unhelpful.
For all of us, we need different things — so be aware of what you might need.
For me, I need variety, even while home. Last week on top of teaching that class, and being involved in many other online things, I finished reading a book, watched a movie, and worked on a 1500 piece puzzle we have up. Today, one of the things on my list is to “pick up the poop” from the backyard. Not a thrilling activity, but it does get me outside, and gets me breathing the air. Besides, there is a good feeling knowing something got “done.” It is nice to take things off the list.
So, I decided to write this today because I needed to find a way to work through the emotions I was feeling and felt like the best way might be to write to you. So, I am putting this out there, just to acknowledge this; I’m with you. This is tough. We can only get through this together.