What I’ve Learned, So Far, in the Time of COVID-19

I may be older now than the little one pictured above, but I was once that young. Despite the differences in our ages, she and I are both learning. Hopefully, she is still learning about the wonders of the outdoors. The things I’m learning I hope she never has the chance of learning.

This last weekend I attended a writing workshop on the literary essay. It was time well spent. Writing prompts were available in huge numbers, and the words “pandemic” and “quarantine” came up more than once.

One more event via Zoom. The word “together” was used in opening statements from the facilitator. One participant spoke up to say that showing up on each other’s computer screens did not constitute “together.” I have to agree with her. At coffee and lunch breaks, we could not interact and get to know each other.

At one point, our facilitator noted that list-making was one way to prompt the mind as you start writing. I chose to list some things I’ve learned during this pandemic. I’m sure my list will continue to grow, and as it does, I’ll share it with you.

What I’ve Learned So Far

  • Sadly, it is possible for state governments to take the lead in managing a pandemic, especially when there is no master plan at the federal level.
  • You can purchase a new car on December 31, 2019, and drive it only once each week or two.
  • I can read five books at a time. Maybe more — we’re not out of the woods yet in my county in Oregon.
  • It is possible to get along without replacing the overhead light fixture in your laundry room if it’s not possible to go to Home Depot to get a replacement. 
  • Online grocery shopping is not so bad. I may like it so well that when we’re past this quarantine I’ll continue on.
  • Someone else is capable of selecting my produce and meat while at the same time pleasing me. Of course, I knew Bob could do this but he can’t go to the grocery either.
  • We’re accomplishing a great deal that wouldn’t have gotten done if we hadn’t been forced to slow down and stay home.
  • Now I appreciate how much I miss our participation in the music culture of Portland.
  • Worship continues on in this pandemic world thanks to today’s technology in live-streaming, Zoom, and many other methods. 
  • There are things I can live without.
  • I can go much longer than I thought without a haircut. Currently, I’m at month three today.
  • Sadly, I’ve learned how quickly a virus can increase the population in hospitals and the number of deaths in a city or state or country.
  • And I’ve learned how many people ignore the boundaries and guidelines for protecting each other against a virus. We are all in this together, aren’t we?

What Is There Still to Learn?

I don’t know for certain, but I can assure you I believe there will be something. And when I find out, it will be time to update the above list and I will.

And What Have You Learned, My Friend?

Stop below and leave one, or two, or more things you’ve learned thus far in the pandemic. If you’d like to be anonymous, email them to me via my Contact Page.

And a message from Mr. Rogers in honor of all those working on the front lines of this pandemic, whether nurse, doctor, maintenance and janitorial staff, cafeteria workers in hospitals, ambulance drivers, and first responders, and volunteers working food banks and in other areas.

Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers, helpers, frontline in pandemic, remember

 

Featured Image Attribution: Photo by John Wilhelm

Gratitude While Cocooning

With plenty of time on my hands, my mind runs to thinking on gratitude. What I’m grateful for in our cocooning.
 
We decided to substitute “cocooning” for “sheltering in place” and “quarantining.” The genesis of cocooning is a statement shared in our church’s weekly men’s Bible study group. I’ll share the entire quote in a moment.
 

Here’s what I’m grateful for this past week:

  • Shelter and food to eat plus clean water to drink.
  • Being stranded in the middle of Meyer Woods with the man God blessed my life with almost 39 years ago.
  • Health and welfare of our three children and their families.
  • A long drive in the countryside to see what Spring is up to, and she’s up to a lot!
  • Frontline workers in Portland, OR, who show up every day putting their lives at risk to care for others.
  • A Facebook group providing a place to seek help and receive it in these times. The group name is Pandemic Partners-SE Portland.
  • Neighbors who check on us; a couple next door and another couple behind us.
  • A phone call from Rivers East Village checking in to see that we’re doing OK. (Also see Village to Village Network.)
  • Reaching out to others in our community to check on their needs.
  • Continuing recovery of a dear friend after a serious skiing accident two weeks ago.
All these things for some reason stand out in greater light than usual. That’s because there are so much tragedy and uncertainty around us. The stress and tension have a tendency to bring our senses into sharper focus.
 
How much longer will we need to follow the guidelines issued by the various levels of government? We don’t know. But one thing is sure, and it is in the words spoken by a dear friend on Wednesday morning:
 

Quarantining is like being cocooned. We are waiting mostly in the dark,
and we don’t know what form we will take when we emerge.

But I imagine it will be beautiful beyond our imagining.

 

Take these words with you and while cocooning, think on those things for which you are grateful.

 

Featured image: Ronny Overhate from Pixabay

 

Joy in the Time of COVID-19

I did not intend to use the COVID-19 label in my post title, because you have heard enough about the virus without my adding it to headlines. Yet this was the catchiest title I could come up with today. 

One item Bob and I have on our daily calendar is our time for morning devotional and prayers. In recent days, we’ve been following Henri Nouwen. The daily meditation is waiting in our inbox before we get up and out of bed. It’s been a good day starter for us.

Yesterday’s meditation seemed chosen specifically for this time of crisis for all of us. As we read it, I thought of all the things that are happening around us. What could we possibly find joy in right now? My recovery, the birth of our new great-granddaughter Aurora, a friend who suffered a traumatic skiing accident a week ago and is recovering, and the joy of being together in this time of stress and tension. It made us more aware of what joy really is. I thought perhaps it might help someone else if I shared it here:

Be Surprised by Joy

 
Learn the discipline of being surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old . . . there is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road. . . . But don’t be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain.

 

For more information on Henri Nouwen, his writings and work, click here.

Featured image attribution: nicko mcluff from Pixabay

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.”

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

Perhaps you learned this iconic quote in childhood. It is attributed to Watty Piper, a pen name of Arnold Munk, owner of the publishing firm of Platt & Munk. Munk wrote children’s books, including this favorite, The Little Engine That Could.
 
Little Golden Book, The Little Engine That Could, I Think I CanGrowing up, we read the Little Golden Book edition of The Little Engine That Could. Our favorite book soon became tattered, torn, faded, and fingerprinted with our love. With eight years between us, I read the book to my younger brother. 
 

 
On February 10th, we had a group of young men at our place to take down three old Doug firs. The approximate height of these trees was 135 feet. We knew that a lot of work and, yes, a mess would remain.
 
We understood that some existing shrubs and plants might suffer damage. But these trees had to go—they were encroaching on the front of our home. One of the first things we noticed was that a grouping of hyacinths were gone. Smashed by limbs bigger than the hyacinths would ever be.
 
Yesterday I noticed one white hyacinth was up to proving it could survive anything! I could hear that hyacinth repeating the words, “I think I can.” Today Bob pointed out there were two hyacinths there, both white. 
 
How symbolic this is of what we need to embrace today. In the face of this unknown virus and misinformation about it, we need a sense of calm coupled with determination. We need to prove we can and will survive this crisis. Further, we need to support our neighbors and community. And despite misinformation, we can find an authentic and reliable source.
 
And we need to adopt the mantra of that little engine of long ago and two white hyacinths beating the odds. Repeat after me:
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

 

Featured image attribution: Etienne GONTIER from Pixabay