The last couple of weeks remind me of the day I got into someone else’s car and tried to start it. The ignition was in the wrong place. The seat wasn’t adjusted to the way I always had it set. Someone had changed the color of the upholstery and it smelled funny in there. When my friend who had gotten into the passenger seat beside me asked, “Are you sure this is your car?” it dawned on me for the first time that I may have made a mistake.
And so goes the Great Pandemic of 2020. I’m in the wrong car. Disoriented. We might all be joining in on the toilet paper jokes and rapid fire meme creations but seriously, I am just about as discombobulated as I can remember being. It’s almost a comedic effort around the house to keep things chugging along with a sense of normalcy and my day clothes are starting to resemble my night clothes. When I make a list for the store there’s a little Mission Impossible theme starting to play in my head. I’m forcing myself to buy good nutritious stuff when what I really want is a truckload of Ding Dongs and Doritos.
There are only two of us living under this roof and I’ve whispered a prayer of thankfulness more than once that I’ve been allowed to reach this stage of life before the GP of 2020 hit so that I didn’t have little kids in my care who needed constancy, energy, good cheer, instruction, and a bottomless well of patience. It’s easy, easy, easy around here compared to that. And if you are indeed one of those right now, please know that I seriously pray for you each and every day. Good will come of it as your family gathers together. Memories are being made, that’s for sure! In your spare time, make a scrapbook. Heh. I said that knowing I’m too far away for you to throw a rock at me.
Here I go again . . . “Thank you, God.”
Of course if that were to have been asked of me and the pitter patter of my children were still around I suppose I would’ve somehow risen to the occasion but, man, am I ever thankful. Probably they are too. Ha.
Anyhoo . . . so it’s just the two of us. And the dog. Her life has not altered one iota. Except now I read this morning on my daily list of foreboding emails that her grooming salon has closed down . . . home haircuts for you, kiddo.
That means it’s pretty simple to keep up with the house. Food, laundry, making the bed (because even though there’s a pandemic out there we are not animals), and sunshiny yard work. Neighborhood walks with long-distance waves are a daily occurrence. I’m seeing people I didn’t know existed.
A different matter entirely is keeping up with racing thoughts/worries (should I panic about paper products?) and the continuing ebb and flow of family.
Family. This is the abstract stuff where check marks on a list don’t cut it. Trips have been cancelled, lives rearranged and grandchildren disappointed. Most of all we have celebrated and mourned in rapid succession these last two weeks as we thrilled to the scene of our youngest daughter and son-in-law announcing a longed-for pregnancy, and then not a week later a grueling, sad goodbye to that precious little one who went early to heaven.
Nothing is the same after that. If you have walked this path then you are nodding. It is a gathering up of hearts and a coming together of souls. Emily Dickinson says, “the sweeping up the heart and putting love away.” We recalibrate. Adjust our plans. We love the mama and the daddy. And we march onward. And as always, we sing because we know of a glad reunion.
The COVID-19 virus has ravaged so many places, one of them Italy. Maybe you’ve already seen this video. It speaks to the global human spirit and the ability of song, in our native tongue or not, to raise us above our situation. Whether you’re a regular listener of opera or generally steer clear, you cannot fail to be moved by this quarantined gentleman gifting his also-quarantined neighbors with thrilling music.
That right there can get a person straightened out! And the sweet little boy at the end has no problem demonstrating that he thinks it’s too loud. Kids. Italian or not, they have a universality about them. Oh my heart.
In the quiet of my house I often pray from a chair that’s been passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. It’s not the prettiest or most stylish and recently a little dog guest helped me make the decision to rip off the upholstery and go with something new. But it’s a good spot to dial back my racing thoughts, pick up my Bible and focus on the relationship between me and Jesus–the beautiful communion that makes life manageable. When the world is upside down, store shelves are frighteningly empty, my children are hurting, and my heart is in pieces, this is where I can be found. I sit down feeling like I’m in a wrong funny-smelling car and get up ready to meet the day. No prayer is too small or too big, too simple or too complex. Oftentimes there are no words, just a trust in Him who hears my heart. Let me share this simple prayer with you that has been going out from my chair in this strange time of world pandemic.
See us as we are meant to be seen, your precious children.
We come to you now feeling our smallness yet knowing You are but a breath away.
This world. This country. That country. Those people. These people. The old ones. The young ones. Hear our cry.
Thank you for the blessing of those who understand the fight and how to care for the sick. We pray your constant watchcare over the caretakers.
Thank you for national and global leadership. Help those in power over millions to understand their need of You and to govern as You would direct. Protect them from any who would seek to do them harm or to influence them for evil during this time of crisis.
Thank you for each individual home in which we take shelter. Would you guide the thoughts and actions of those adults inside the homes to lovingly care for the children and to safeguard them, teach them, and tenderly guide them through these days? Send your angels of protection to vulnerable little ones who are safer at school than at home. Overcome the darkness in their homes. Calm fears. Make stout hearts.
And now, we boldly ask Your healing of sickness and the wiping away of this pandemic, Lord. We pledge to do our part and live as citizens of our country and be good friends and neighbors. Give us both the strength to meet each task and the good cheer with which to greet each day. Continue to show us the Way. In Your hands we place our lives, our futures, our families and our world.
Amen and Amen.
Bless each of you, dear ones, as you go about your days during this strange, disorienting time. All will be well. All will be well.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
James 1:1-3 The Message
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.
Isaiah 53:4a KJV