Reflections from the Couch – Take Two!
So its Monday morning, and I am back on my couch ready to reflect on this second week mainly at home.
I had lots of ideas that have come and gone about what to write, but then before sitting down I read the morning paper.
Again full of COVID-19 stuff, very very scary numbers from Italy, from Spain, from the US, and of course the crisis with the cruise ships here in WA. But I also read the Opinion page by Jenna Clarke and the Anxiety Aunt column. And it hit mean, well it had already hit me but it was re-enforced by what these women wrote.
I have been trying to write hopeful things, in my blog and in my sermons, reflecting on the kindness being shown and encouraging people to see the light (and God) amongst the darkness of these crazy times. Yet I want to pause for a moment.
Because I am one of the lucky ones, I am not going to be jobless, I still have all 3 of my jobs, because they are in teaching, church work or at a hospital! Yet so, so many people, mainly young people do not have theirs.
I have a son who has embarked on his first professional job, and has started that process of becoming truly independent, moving into a unit with a friend, and living his own life, albeit with a weekly trip home for dinner. At the moment he has his job, and is still “free”.
But what of all those who have lost jobs, maybe their first one, or the one that enables them to study, or the ones who are embarking on families for the first time, like my niece, with a baby due in early May. Her support and joy will be tinged with the sadness that she can’t share this amazing time with her extended family and friends.
And what about those who have had to move back with parents, if they can, without going insane. As Anxiety Aunty says, in response to the letter she received about this, “the world is insane, the situation we have found ourselves in is absolutely bonkers. If anything retaining your sanity would be the maddest thing you could do right now”. Probably good advice!
She goes on to say, that while appreciating the kindness and compassion of people is good, “Your Aunt is not going to tell you the coming year is going to be fine. It probably will not. But your Aunt would like you to do something. Wake up in the morning, wash your face, brush your teeth, look in the mirror and say, this too shall pass. You have given up your adult independence, this too shall pass. You have lost your job, this too shall pass. The trajectory of your life has been interrupted, but this too shall pass. Remember life is long and can throw you many curve balls. Hopefully the next interruption to your life will be a wonderful one”. In the meantime you might need to learn how to cook! (I added that!)
I loved Anxiety Aunt’s response because it acknowledges that the time we are living in at the moment not easy, there is grief and sorrow at things lost, and huge challenges are facing all of us. But it is part of living, and sometimes living gives us curve balls, massive curve balls. Some are huge, like the death of a loved one, a whole family or a child, or a terrible health diagnosis, and some are more global. Just think of our grandparents and parents who were suddenly told, by the way there is a war on so off you go and fight it for us. With no say in the decision at all. And some are like this, a pandemic, could we ever have imagined that this is how we would be living in March 2020. Being told that we can’t even go and meet with more than 2 people, when one is us!
So let’s take a moment to weep. For the things lost.
Let us weep that our seniors who are being asked to self- isolate from the things that give them joy, children, grandchildren, friends, and for many church.
Let us weep for our young people, whose jobs are lost, whose lives are on hold, who might need to move back in with mum and dad, if they can, to survive.
Let us weep for those who don’t have a support network, who are on the streets, without protection, and who find the new unstable world a very dangerous place.
Let us weep for the children whose homes are not safe, where school provides protection and direction. Who are frightened by the change that is coming.
Let us weep for those with mental illness who will find the social isolation very difficult. And for those who provide services to all those marginalised in our society and are overrun with requests for help.
Let us weep for those who are ill, in aged care, or who were to have elective surgery to restore them to health but who have to wait, and wait and wait again.
Let us weep for the hospital and health workers, who are working non stop but are fearful that here in WA it will get out of control just as it has done in other places.
Let us weep and acknowledge that life has been stalled and it is time to reassess and re-orientate ourselves.
Let us weep and then acknowledge we have the power to change how we live in this crazy time.
So what can we do!
Share things that will brighten peoples day. Let’s put the teddy bear in the window, even if it’s at our parents place. Connect as best we can with our neighbours and our community and show as much love and concern as we can. Wake up and choose one thing to do that will make a difference to someone else. And yes, even post things on our social media platforms that may bring a smile.
I honestly believe when we do these things something happens to us. We lighten up, we realise by sharing and connecting we touch something at the very heart of being human. We touch the interconnectedness found at the heart of life. I find I also connect to the divine presence that gives life to everything, but that’s just me.
Either way, as Anxiety Aunt suggests, this too shall pass. It’s what we do while its passing that will make all the difference.
Just a thought.
With that thought I would share a poem, one of my favourites from Mary Oliver. Poetry, like reading, feeds the soul.
In the storm
Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing
hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,
five inches long
with beaks like wire,
snowflakes on their backs,
in a row
behind the ducks—
whose backs were also
covered with snow—
they were all but touching,
they were all but under
the roof of the ducks’ tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,
for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away
out over the water,
which was still raging.
they came back
and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
stoop there, and live.
If someone you didn’t know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?
Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned,
if not enough else—
to live with my eyes open.
I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness—
as now and again
some rare person has suggested—
is a miracle.
As surely it is.