Hello dear friends! I just realized that I wrote to you all in May, but forgot to post my thoughts to the wider world. The post just went live. How odd to read what I wrote three months ago--I guess my forgetfulness speaks to the state of mind most of us had back then. Distracted, a little thrown. Maybe even spinning in circles.
Today is different. Many of us have been on real journeys of hardship during the stages of this pandemic. Some of us have lost jobs, and friends or family during this time. Some of us have protested. Some of us have fallen to pieces and been put back together again. Some of us have retreated into ourselves and found really good, interesting things there.
As for me, it's hard to know where to begin. I'm grateful for a thousand things, so I guess I'll share a little.
Backyard fire pits. My parents live in the same town as we do, and we see them every Sunday. They're in their 80's. At the beginning of quarantine we isolated, just my husband, son and I (and the amazing #ohzuko) but we quickly realized that my dad, a flaming extrovert, was going to die prematurely if he didn't have people around. So we started seeing them each Sunday in their backyard, sitting around their fire pit, and have kept that up all this time. I am grateful that they have remained healthy, and for all the good moments we've had around the fire.
Saints. Did you know that St. Cyprian also endured a terrible plague, helping people in his city when they were sick? And that St. Spyridon felt more comfortable wearing his shepherd's clothes instead of his clergy cassock, so that's how he dressed most of the time despite being a bishop? I've been editing three books for kids--each one about saints--one is a colleciton of 101 of saints; one is a graphic novel about Saint Katherine; and the third a middle grade novel about Saint Phanourios. Digging into their lives during this odd time in history has been the perfect remedy for any anxiety that has surfaced in my own life. Talk about sickness, isolation, starvation, and struggle! (Two million Russians died of famine between 1601-1603 when St. Juliana of Lazarevo was alive...) The saints went through it all. To top it off, my husband and I commissioned two icons of Saint Maria of Paris to be painted back in January. The iconographer, who lives in Italy, worked through the awful time of Covid in his country, and then with Italy closed down, the icons were quarantined in his studio until just recently. Fascinating that once they were shipped, they traveled first to Germany, where they spent a couple of days, then finally made their way here. I believe that the saints and angels have been working overtime this year. I'm grateful that they lived inspiring lives, which encourages me in my own...
Audiobooks. Almost every evening after dinner I head out into the neighborhood and walk for an hour. I started this habit mostly to get away from the house to feel a little less confined. I've listened to everything I could find of John O'Donohue, plus The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Pushout by Monique W. Morris, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, parts of Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, Fertile Ground by Laura S. Jansson, and am currently listening to Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. My primary style of learning is not auditory so I grab maybe 80% of what I hear, but I've enjoyed this time of movement and learning, and listening to John O'Donohue speak with his heavy Irish accent was a balm.
The beach. I'm grateful that our beaches never closed, and that during the worst of the weeks of isolation, we were able to be at the shore and breathe. For those of you who didn't have a body of water to stare at, I honestly wish that I could pick you up and plop you by the waterside. I pray you've had moments of respite, and if you haven't, I pray many days of beauty and peace are in your future.
Work. I've worked more over the last few months than I have since my kids were little and I was on the job 24/7. For many years I've homeschooled, and only worked part time. This summer, I've been able to get a significant amount of work done on many big projects and it's been a wonderful distraction. My routine of prayer, exercise, family, garden, tea, and work--rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, has kept me sane--away from binge watching television and scrolling through the news. I'm grateful that my eyes have held up, but I am transitioning to fewer hours as school begins in about ten days.
The weather, plus Jaime and his crew. Being stuck at home, during these months of isolation, has been offset by projects. We have had gorgeous weather that has allowed us to have the doors open every day for months and months. We've been saving our pennies over the last few years, and decided that now was a good time to finish our backyard. We've had a plan ready to implement, turning a weed patch into a patio, so we hired a friend of a friend, who helped us make the small space we have outside into something functional. The project is now complete, and I'm grateful every single night as we carry our dinner plates to the back patio and sit in the fresh air next to our beloved lemon tree.
Grace. I don't know what my son would have done without his cousin Grace. Being alone for months on end with your lame, old parents, isn't the ultimate way to spend your 14th year on this planet. Okay, he's lucky we aren't lamer... But after the inital lockdown, we pulled Grace into our "quaranteam" so that our son wouldn't have to only be online to talk to friends. Grace, we love you!
Learning. I've learned that people really like the word "pivot." I've learned that I'm a really great hermit--truly, send the husband off to the market cause he needs to see people. I'm happy just sitting here, typing away. I've learned that if you wait too long to harvest chamomile flowers that they fall apart into a tiny little pile of pollen and seed. I've learned somehow I can manage to have a hemming project, a quilting project, a gardening project, a photograph project, a basket-making project, a fruit canning project, and a dog-grooming project all happening on the very same day, in the very same house! My husband says he's just fine with all my little piles of things popping up everywhere, but is he actually telling the truth, or just being nice?! The biggest thing I've learned. Ready? I've always thought that when I am old and frail, that I will spend my days like they do at the monastery, praying from dawn till dusk. That is my hope. But I've learned that if I'm going to get there, then I need to be in training now. That I need to develop some serious habits that will put me on that path. So I have a 50-year-praying-plan, and by the time I'm 100, maybe I'll be a miniscule prayer warrior mama (who has lots of projects all over the place). Pray for me, will you? If I'm going to live a bunch more years, I want to live them right.
Share what you're up to in the comments!
Published: August 27, 2020 | Filed under: Home