Thoughts on Quarantining

Yes, we’ve been being careful.

Not going anywhere without a mask, staying away from group activities, limiting our shopping in real stores, and still…

Here I am in quarantine, waiting on test results, and best case scenario–out of quarantine on Dec. 1.

Thoughts are swirling….

Perhaps I am being too cautious and don’t really need to do this? I had my mask on. It was about a five-minute encounter with an old lady who shouldn’t have answered her door because she had the virus. (What am I saying? I’m an old lady! But she is older than me, so that makes it ok?) Even more so, she shouldn’t have coughed at me when she opened the door.  She opened the door to tell me she shouldn’t be opening the door…

It is better to err on the side of caution, isn’t it? This is how the virus spreads–people think they are the exception and don’t bother to follow what the health experts have told us to do. Or worse, they flaunt their unbeliefs and don’t social distance, don’t wear masks, and call the virus a hoax in the name of personal freedom.

I’m isolating myself, even though it seems silly because I feel fine,  but I don’t want to be considered one of those people. Just suppose my dear 88-year-old neighbor came down with this because of me…

I feel like a slacker because I’ve canceled things I had committed to doing. Even though everyone assures me that’s just the way it is in 2020, I remain unpersuaded and feeling guilty. (But maybe I feel guilty because I really like staying home with no responsibilities?)

The truth is, I wake every morning and in my groggy, still half-asleep state, I think: Ok, what do I have to do today? And then I relax when I realize the answer is NOTHING…

It really is forced rest and I’ve never been good at it. It’s not that I’m a whirlwind of 24/7 activity, but I have things to do and I need to do them. As I was thinking about this, I remembered an essay I wrote about this very thing a few years ago and I went to reread it. (It’s here if you want to read it too.)

Yes, even then in the midst of busy-ness I was unhappy about the forced rest because I had plenty of things on my to do list…

Perhaps it is the feeling we all share–that we are important and what we have to do is important and nothing had better get in the way of that importance.

Perhaps it is the feeling of guilt that many of us have when we sit and do nothing–we learned it years ago, maybe?

Conscience: What are you doing?
Me: Nothing.
Conscience: Well, you’d better get up and do something. What will people think? Are you lazy? Don’t you know that through laziness the rafters sag and the house leaks because of idle hands?
Me: No. I’m just resting for a few minutes.
Conscience: What if someone sees you just sitting here doing nothing when the kitchen floor needs scrubbing, the house is messy, and your bed isn’t even made! You’d better have two or even three projects going, you know, so people won’t think you are a retired bum.
Me: Hmmm. Maybe I am a retired bum who is quarantined for a reason…So I can make peace with rest. And by the way, Get behind me, Satan…

It’s long past time to let this stuff go…

Many times during this pandemic lockdown time of 2020 I’ve wondered what it is God is trying to tell us. Sometimes we don’t know what it might be until hindsight makes it plain, but I’m thinking that, without a doubt, this is to be a time of reassessment; of determining what is important; a season of quiet. God called it Sabbath Rest. He said: Stop doing and just be. Reacquaint yourself with Me.

It’s become increasingly clear that we can’t. We keep trying to find workarounds and solutions and new ways to keep on doing. Our stuff is important, after all…

I thought I was doing fine–cutting back on activities, staying away from unnecessary store trips, not eating out–you know, the stuff we are all doing? But then real quarantine happened and I realized that I can’t go Anywhere. And what is important, anyway? What if I like staying home too much? Its hard enough to fight my introvert tendencies…

sun in dark clouds

Of course, some parts of living can’t just stop. And finding ways to help each other cope and survive are crucial, but to be honest for a minute: I am feeling guilty for not living my old life and I am fearful of giving it up. I don’t really like waiting either…

I think that could be part of the problem with those who refuse to wear masks and think the virus is a hoax: that fear and unwillingness to admit that things may change. We like to think we are in control; our feelings of control are directly related to our importance.

God is changing things up. He is telling us, “I am the Lord of the sky and the sea. Call on me, and let me be your rest.” He also tells us over and over: “Do Not Fear.”

Turn off the news. Breathe in deeply. Say your gratitudes. Let your need for importance evaporate into the night breeze.

Let God have the control button.

Little Disasters Everywhere…

If 2020 did anything for us, it made us aware of how important home is.

Let’s face it, when we’re spending 24/7 in our rooms, apartments, town homes, cottages, or houses, they need to work and be pleasing more than ever.

Like most of the country world, we’ve had plenty of downtime this year. So in this stay-at-home time, we’ve worked on our home while staying in it. This makes for a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that the last room in the house is getting finished. The bad news is that the room has been emptied of everything that was in there and all that junk is now stashed in every crack and corner of the rest of the house. Every. Single. Thing.

The good news is that in these days of pandemic lockdown, no one will show up to this messy house unannounced. (And if they do, we can keep them outside…) The bad news is that there is barely room to find a place for two tired people to sit down and relax, let alone, eat meals.

The dining room table has become the sewing table.

Shoved behind the couch are assorted lamps, closet lights to be installed, and speakers that are still to be argued about discussed.

The bedroom hasn’t escaped either. The printer is tucked next to my nightstand, couch pillows are on the cedar chest, and an antique quilt hanger that belonged to Clara is just plain in the way while we decide if or how to repurpose it. Not to mention the ironing board that is stashed behind the curtains when not in use.

The sleeper sofa had its sleeper part taken out so it could be spray painted. Which is why the cushions are in the bedroom. The sleeper part is stored in Mr. H. C’s truck. Which has him wondering how he can go get wood for trimming the four doors and two windows… Two closets, an entry door from the outside, an entry doorway from the living room, and these two lovely new windows that were put in this summer:

The spray painted couch is now out on the back porch and the tv is in the living room. Everything is in disarray. Much like the world.

The comment today was “It looks like we are either moving in or moving out.” The good news and the bad news is that Thanksgiving is canceled this year so there’s no deadline to have all this under control.

Some days it’s okay and I’m energized to get stuff done. Some days I would just like to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over my eyes.

Yeah. Kind of like 2020. Is it over yet?

All We Need Is Love…

All of March, all of April, all of May so far, posts have been swirling around in my head and then rejected. Too serious, too stupid, too sad, too banal, too ubiquitous, too churchy, too inappropriate, too depressing, too inconsequential… So instead I wrote an inconsequential post on baking dessert, and an inconsequential post on our bathroom remodel. (I confess that the beautiful new bathroom isn’t inconsequential to me!)

I kept thinking of the Lennon-McCartney line, Nothing you can say that’s not been said… but it turns out that isn’t the right lyric. It is close to a line from “All You Need Is Love” and that’s the lyric we all need to hear right now. “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need…” So have a listen to the song, while you’re reading my words that have all been said before.

This stuff we’re going through is scary. We’ve probably all read enough dystopian novels that start simply enough with oh, say, all the grass dying from a disease (No Blade of Grass, by John Christopher) or  women no longer being able to give birth so humanity is dying out (The Children of Men by P. D. James) or climate change causing  social structures to break down (The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler) or a viral pandemic that starts in one small area and spreads worldwide (Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; The Stand by Stephen King; )… It’s easy to look at what’s happening now and say, What if… Okay, yes. Too depressing.

I myself have been having trouble reading, concentrating. The librarian! So if dystopian novels are too depressing,  I told myself, read something light. So I chose 14 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, but all that did was remind me of the ten days in Scotland that is not happening. Non-fiction, I brainstormed, and soon after I was reminded that The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher was on my life to-read-list, but it had always been pushed to the bottom because I didn’t think I had time. Duh! There are no events on my calendar, and I’ve got time. I’m reading it now on my kindle and thoroughly enjoying it.

Since we’re on the topic of song lyrics, how about John Prine’s song, Spanish Pipedream: Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country, build you a home. Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try to find Jesus, on your own…)

Garden for Joy

Plant a little garden: We’ve already covered that in this post, but just in case you didn’t read it, go out and plant something. On your patio. In your back yard. In your front yard. Grow cosmos. Or lantana. Grow yellow tomatoes. Or seven different varieties of basil. Grow a lemon tree…

Turn off the Television: I admit to wanting to blow mine up.  24-7 broadcasting of Covid-19 statistics and scares is not good for anyone’s mental health…Neither is 24-7 broadcasting on the current president’s stupidity. Sorry. I just had to throw that in there because that has me as depressed as the virus statistics. So turn off the news, turn off the president, turn off the divisiveness. Play games, go for a walk, make homemade ice cream, order pizza delivery for a friend.

Try to find Jesus: Now is the time. Do you need hope? Do you need comfort? Do you need the ability to get rid of the belief that you are in control? Take comfort in what Jesus told his disciples: So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring fears of its own… There are you-tube church services abounding right now, and you don’t have to actually walk into a church. I remember how daunting that was when I was finally ready to take that step. It took me a month to get up the courage.

Pray: “Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage, family and addictions therapist. “They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves.

Giving comfort to someone else brings comfort to you: Find something to do for someone who is worse off than you. Donate your time. Donate your talent. Donate your money. We were going to donate our stimulus check, but we haven’t received it yet. That’s okay; it’s giving us plenty of time to decide how to donate it…

So yes, all of this advice is everywhere. And frankly, I’m tired of those sappy commercials of “We’re all in this together”. I appreciate the sentiment; it is true. And I’d rather see one of those commercials than the tv news of protesters dressed in camo carrying guns. I admit to being a child of the sixties: I want to walk up and put daisies in their gun barrels.

I took this picture today when I was outside decorating my house for spring. These ajuga and lilies of the valley are growing together and cooperating beautifully in the same space. Even though they are different colors; even though they are different species. When will humans learn from them? In truth, some of the most beautiful landscapes are those with incredible variety. With all that is going on the world, we are being called to rise above the division, the noise, the ugliness and reach out in love to someone who might be different from us.

Take one step forward today. Be kind and love on someone. Be kind to yourself. Pray. Be grateful for what you do have. Love isn’t love till you give it away