We are being told: regularly wash your hands with soap and water; practice social distancing (two metres apart from people other than those in your own home); do not go anywhere except for essential services.
I’ve followed this script for a month and will do so until advised otherwise.
Complying with our government’s policies helps keep us less vulnerable from contracting or sharing the COVID-19 virus.
To be clear, I live in an environment where I feel safe: shelter, food, professional and accessible medical system, stable government leadership. Yet even in a place of privilege, we can feel mentally and emotionally vulnerable.
Writing a script could help us walk stronger through this foreign landscape.
Children and family sequestered in one place 24/7? Expect some roller-coaster angst. Using the collective we, in one moment we thank God our families are not sick from COVID-19. In the next we’re talking ourselves into getting a grip over our impatience and frustration with the squeeze on our privacy or the noise and messyness of life. We can get triggered by shots of shame or guilt but we don’t have to embrace these emotions – a hug, a smile, a sorry – and move on.
Loneliness and separation from our social community and family is a disorienting loss without real-people touch and support. Margaret Feinberg: podcaster, author, speaker shared during Holy Week the five stages of grief on her (mafeinberg) Instagram stories. I think her suggestions relate to our present journey also.
The ‘news’ and social media can inform and entertain – and can drive us crazy. Hearing the virus case numbers, and not hearing that this will soon be over, can amplify anxiety about our lack of control. Media distancing can help protect the mind and soul. You can Unfriend if you want. Use your power where you can.
Even though there’s nowhere to go and so much extra time on our hands, we don’t all have the personality or mental will to conquer the world doing all the stuff we think we could or should do. If boxes of photos have been untouched for years it’s pretty unrealistic to think now’s the time to get them all get organized. Writer and Publication coach Daphne Gray-Grant shares helpful tips for what she calls PR-LOP — pandemic-related lack of productivity. I think you might find her reassuring.
Trauma psychologist Alaa Hijazi emphatically shares her view on the push for efficiency : “This…obsession with…always spending time in a productive fruitful way is absolutely maddening. What we need is more self compassion, more gentle acceptance of all the difficult emotions coming up for us now, more focus on gentle ways to soothe ourselves and our pain and the pain of loved ones around us…..”
Yes, there is another side of that coin. The Apostle Paul’s letters and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison were written confined in prison; Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Macbeth while under quarantine resulting from the plague. I’m cheering for you if you’re feeling inspired to do your best work.
More relatable stories are the many family and friends who are choosing to nail it and are getting a whack of cleaning, creative work, and cooking accomplished.
Others are exploring ‘for fun’. My daughter Renee Tougas whom I’ve happily shared here before, produced a FB live video with me, No Knead Dutch Oven Bread. If you have a cast iron Dutch Oven with a lid – and flour, yeast, salt, water – you might want to check it out. (Note: recipe in the video didn’t include the flax option but recommend scattering a few seeds on for good measure!)
We decide what we want to do, what we’re capable of doing – while preserving our wellbeing, sanity and relationships with those sharing space in our quarantine. It’s in our court.
Resisting guilt or comparison yet thinking about what we can be comfortable with at the end of this, whenever and however that will look. Undertaking one (small) thing can be the best thing.
To wrap this up…
Author Brian D. McLaren writes in Naked Spirituality – A Life with God in 12 Simple Words (2011) “….’when new troubles come our way, new threats, we can maintain a kind of peace, a peace beyond understanding Philippians 4:7‘ ….we can rest in the eye of the storm, seeing our difficulties neither as punishment for some past offense nor as evidence that God’s protection has gone off-line….just wait…hold on, and keep your eyes open, and you will eventually behold what you do not see now.” Not simple, but easier without guilt.
Things may never be the same, but life won’t be quite like this forever.
A wee closing prayer from Ecumenical teacher Father Richard Rohr: “Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longing for the healing of our world.”
We are in this together. We do the best we can.
How have you been managing with COVID-19? If you or those you love have been personally affected, my heart hurts for you.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you’d like to share, I would love to hear how you are doing.