This long month is coming to a close cold and rainy. I can’t get out to finish the weeding today. Maybe I’ll clean upstairs, get rid of the sewing mess I made several weeks ago fashioning our three pathetic masks. We should have another set if we’re serious about using them properly, laundering after each use. Maybe I’ll buy some on Etsy.
Mask sewing isn’t where it’s at for me, the distracting focus. I know that is an oxymoron. What I’m looking for is a way to be sad and determined at the same time. Something to do that feels like purpose. A larger wheel to engage me as one of the cogs rather than spinning in my own space.
What can I do?
This is a status report, Day 47 of sheltering in place. Subtitle, the halfhearted quest for meaning.
We are sheltering a refugee as we are sheltering ourselves. That’s one thing we’re doing that is working out well for all concerned, all things considered. Maybe we could take in another refugee? We have room. But we are not prepared to go through everything again that we went through in order to shelter this one. So perhaps we could offer space but not sponsorship, if that makes sense.
Yikes, though. How about something smaller?
My husband needs a haircut. There’s a little project, if he’ll agree to it.
Feeding the three of us occupies a large part of my attention. Daily meal planning and preparation and planning the grocery orders that go with that. Because of our different needs and tastes the meals have to be pretty simple so cooking is not always entertaining. My mouth waters at my friends’ Facebook posts of their baking ventures. We’re making bread, which Vic and I aren’t supposed to eat but that’s a staple for Ben. I would really like to try cinnamon rolls, but I would just eat them and I can’t afford that. I’m already gaining weight.
The gardening works for me when the weather is good. I bend over till I can’t anymore.
Grooming—personal and garden—and feeding are daily household tasks that fit only abstractly into a bigger picture. They help but don’t satisfy some need for larger purpose.
There are things I could and should be doing as chair of our church’s outreach team. They depend on communicating by email, phone, Zoom, or whatever technology we can muster and master. Our mastery and access, however, are not equal. People don’t respond promptly. Requests and invitations get lost in the ether or in the endless email chains. Confusion reigns. Everything that was hard to do before—agree on and plan projects, budget and raise funds, decide how funds should be spent—is harder than ever. While the needs may be increasing exponentially, we don’t always know where they are. We haven’t laid down clear procedures that work well without face-to-face meetings and the weekly fellowship times between worship and Sunday School where you can collar people and ask them to do stuff.
One of these days when my energy is up I might rethink church logistics for the pandemic age, something besides the video worship service and Zoom sharing and prayer. By the time I get around to that, however, we may be able to meet again. Oh I wish. I am starting to hate the technology. And committee meetings are not what I want to do when church meets face to face again. I want to sing in glorious four-part harmony. I miss our singing.
I’m feeling a lack of real church.
I’m feeling a deficit of the inner resources, psychological and spiritual, that are necessary to keep going in these difficult times.
I see it in my need for distraction, in my restless, halfhearted quest for purpose.
I see it in my wish for things to be the way they were; in my resistance to change and difficulty.
I see it when I sit to meditate and can’t stay quiet and empty my mind for a mere twenty minutes because the waves of grief and anger start rolling through.
I understand why people drink too much. I understand why people just want to get out again and go to stores and bars and movie theaters and restaurants and the beach even though the virus is still out there.
I’m sleeping a lot, when I can get to sleep.
We want to stay asleep. We would like to sleepwalk through life as if nothing had changed. We are not ready to wake up to reality.
That’s how I am today. How are you?
The azaleas are pretty even in the rain.