Sameness

Sameness is an awkward word, isn’t it? But in these pandemic days, it’s the best suited to circumstances in our home.

A few mornings ago I lay awake listening to the morning sounds. Inside there was nothing happening. The cats weren’t even hassling us for morning treats. Outside I could hear rain falling and occasional birdsong. Continue reading “Sameness”

Hope Remains

Yes, hope remains. Despite fires and smoke, extremely hazardous air quality, several days of evacuation orders: hope remains.

All the above add stress to the already stressful pandemic. Yet, hope remains.

One bit of good news, the Portland protests and riots took a break during the smoke and poor air quality. One less level of stress. Hope remains.

As we sat in our home, we talked a lot about preparedness when threatened by a natural disaster. What one thing would you take? It’s hard to say. You might not have time to remember what that thing is and then pick it up and go. But we did start a list of what we’d need to take with us. Continue reading “Hope Remains”

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. Continue reading “What I’ve Learned, So Far, in the Time of COVID-19”

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