COVID Starts

Dear Beloved NNESSRE Community,

I send this reflection from New Hampshire where I am social distancing as much as possible...

Having feelings is what makes us human. Let them all in, accept that they just “are,” so you can let them out. You are no less strong for feeling fearful, just as you are not weak for feeling joy.

If you are like me, your emotions are running the spectrum these days: from apathetic to angry, from harried (what no toilet paper?) to happy, from grim to grateful. Hearing the latest stats of infection, I have felt panic. Touching a key pad at a checkout, I feel afraid. Could I get sick? Could those I love get sick?

Yet, seeing the red-bellied woodpecker return to my bird feeder, having my brown-eyed dog rest her head on my knee, making a perfectly cooked egg sandwich -- during these times everything feels okay, even joyful.

This is a surreal, strange, unprecedented experience, and, there is no road map to guide us. In this time of social distancing, it’s becoming clear how much we need and miss community. We need connection for our mental and our physical health, but we also need time to embrace being alone, to nourish our inner self. I find solace in knowing the value in solitude.

From what I’m seeing, many people are finding creative ways to stay connected. The creativity of teachers, pastors, businesses, and friends has been impressive. Zoom meetings, Facebook and other social media have proven to be gifts to us in this time of social isolation. On the low tech front, it was wonderful to receive a card in the mail from an old friend, and to talk on the phone with my aunts – one in Maine, and one down the road. Seeing Weedge (Eric) Nissan playing tic-tac-toe with his grandmother through the storm door melted my heart. And, I’ve heard of musicians performing on their neighborhood porches, or on Facebook Live, like Lynn and Lindy. I laughed to tears last night when Jaime shared “Tik Tok” videos with me. Who knew a guy trying to flip a tortilla with his foot could be so funny. And, our ZOOM campfire sing-a-long brought me such joy. (Yes, we will do it again tonight!)

On the other hand, people are embracing solitude, too. Taking long walks, reading books stacked and waiting for years, getting out dusty music collections, finishing knitting projects, making cookies, even cleaning out – finally-- that closet (or not). My school is even offering Zoom meditation – feeding both the need for community and the inner self.

We ARE embracing our humanity by reaching out, and reaching in, but is that enough? In this surreal time, if you are like me, you may be wondering, what can I do to help? Taking action lessens fear. Action helps us feel we have some control over what is happening. Social distancing, keeping healthy, and reaching out to others are ALL important actions. If you are able, maybe you are buying gift cards to support local businesses. Maybe you are able to deliver a meal or groceries for another who can’t get out. Maybe you are picking up trash along the road during your daily walks, or sharing news of webinars for matters that matter to you. Whether you are finding creative ways to do your job or care for your family, or yourself, you ARE helping, and I hope you can feel good about it.

In closing I just want to share a few random thoughts that have brought me solace as I’ve looked out the window at the world far more than I’ve been in it:

Others always have it better, or worse than we do. It never does any good to compare suffering.

The natural world is “living on.” Bear are coming out of hibernation, grass is greening, crocus are pushing up and blooming purple and white.

I’m not having FOMO (fear of missing out). This is actually pretty wonderful.

My counters and doorknobs are cleaner than they’ve ever been. Carbon emissions must be less with fewer cars being driven and planes being flown.

My younger daughter, though laid off from her job, is actually reading books.

I am loved and cared for, as are you. We, as a community, are here for each other.

I welcome you to reach out to share how you are coping, finding joy, making connection, or reaching deep in solitude (to or by Facebook comment). I wish you all continued good health, patience, and hope. I wish you moments of laughter ... or whatever it is you need. And, I invite you to join me in the prayer posted below.

Sending Grace from “this” place of NNESSRE community. Sending love from at least six feet away, but always close in heart,