Monday, April 20, 2020

Measuring My Days

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we measure our days.

Today is Monday, another Monday in Covid19.

At the top of my planner is a note, "Tentative last week of Covid-19." That is what they told us when we entered the still-unknown-world of what the spread would be. March 22, driving back from Kansas City, we received the news that the stay-at-home order was issued by the Mayors of both major cities. Effective March 23rd, all schools, non-essential offices, stores, etc. were to be closed and except for trips to the grocery store or medical appointments, everyone was to stay home.

When the order was issued, we were still in the gray area.

We had been in Kansas City the days prior because our oldest son had been shot and was not expected to live. He was in the ICU and that hospital had begun Covid19 shut-down earlier that week. He was shot on the night of March 17. They let us in to see him but once he was stable after the third day, they told us no more visitors. Each day we came, they moved the entrance and enhanced the screening of those on the list to come in.

Covid19 was far from our mind at that time and we hadn't made the mad dash to get toilet paper and had our usual food runs.

One month later and we are measuring our days.

My son survived what they said he would not survive. He is recuperating at home with his fiancee and has a nurse visiting 3x a week to attend to his wound vac. It was safer for him to be at home than to be in the hospital.

The family hasn't been back to see him because we are adhering to strict guidelines for his safety. Gatherings of more than ten have been banned in major cities. Even that ridiculous gathering of idiots wanting to rush the economy open was technically illegal under most state Covid 19 measures. We have decided to stay in with only one of us making the runs to the grocery store.

Another Monday.

My daughters will join other classmates in online learning.

My friends are trying to keep some semblance of normal routine, even if none of us have bothered to put on anything more than a t-shirt and sweat pants.

My religious friends and fellow ministers have been providing pastoral care, from a distance, and attending to what we mark of this spiritual moment.

I'm measuring days.

Of loved ones lost to this unseen mass killer. Of news reports and governor press conferences and of idiotic rushes to claim lost lives are still a good job if they are under a certain number.

It feels very much like walking on waves.

Measuring days.

I already work at home, so that did not change and as of last week, still received my compensation. I have food, water, electricity, toilet paper, and plenty of movies, books, and crafts to keep us entertained. The family has weathered this and in some ways, welcomed the early part of a slower pace, family meals, and an open schedule.

What do we do with notices of indefinite quarantine? Cancelled springs. Postponed graduations. Uncertainty. Unmooring. Unknowing.

I am not the keeper of time. Ecclesiastes tells me there is a time for everything under the sun, even this. Even in this measuring of days by looking at the calendar, each one somewhat like the next, marking online service on Sunday to the next online service on Sunday, trying to keep Friday night and Saturday as weekend days we had before, not fussing at my daughters to get up, trying to keep a normal schedule of school work since our state is still in session, except for the seniors. I am not the keeper of time, but I am measuring it.

One day, I may look back on this season and long for the stillness, the quietness, the unhurriedness of it and hope that I cherished each day as a gift. Even, still. It is a gift.

Days measured.

Moments captured.



Friday, April 17, 2020

We Will Emerge

One month.

It has been one month since we knew something major was happening. March 17 was St. Patrick's Day. We were at home, trying to figure out if this was only an extended Spring Break of what.

My daughter was supposed to be in another state, visiting one of her choice colleges. They informed us on Thursday the 12th that all on campus visits were suspended. She and her classmates were in Orlando, Florida for an orchestra performance. The school had assured us that at the time they left on March 11th, there were only a handful of cases and not in Orlando. We had only had one reported in our suburb and that young lady had traveled from Italy.

It has only been one month since the world as we knew it came to a crashing halt.

I am like so many that I know who are trying to make sense of this. An extended spring break turned into virtual school for a few weeks that ended up being for the remainder of the school year. The seniors were informed they would not need to take finals and if they wanted to be done, they could freeze their grades at whatever it was when they left for spring break. April 15th, my daughter decided she was done.

How many of us feel done?

Or numb?

Or just plain scared?

Inside this Covid19 month, our family also dealt with the near-tragedy of our oldest son being shot multiple times, heart stopping on the ER table three times while the doctors were fishing bullets from his lungs. They ended up cutting him open like a letter T because of what the thieves did to him. He was ambushed. He owns a virtual store that sells high end athletic shoes and custom t-shirts. A "customer" came with an intention of stealing almost $1000 worth of merchandise and planned to take his life. St. Patrick's Day will never be the same.  My son survived what all five surgeons said he would not survive. After 23 days in the hospital on a ventilator and multiple surgeries later, he is at home with his fiancee, recovering. He became our Easter miracle.

Friends lost family members to the virus that swept through entire swaths of people with a speed and voracity that no ordinary person was ready for. This was all within the last two weeks of March.

How can we not feel unmoored, uncertain, uneasy?

There is a massive, silent killer roaming the land and everyone I know is trying to manage staying at home, those that can. Others are trying to figure out how to go out into the world and be safe.My youngest son flew back to Boston to find his job was furloughed and his graduation from the conservatory postponed.

There is a collective pain and grieving happening.

And we need to let it sit.

I sat down the  other day and gazed at the trees from over my balcony. It was a bright day. The sun was shining and any other time, I would have been at my favorite coffee shop, reading and writing. Or, I would have taken my daughters out to the riverfront so we could just walk and ponder.  But, I can't do that. And I mourned a bit.  Then I smiled.

A bird perched on the rail. It was singing it's morning song.

All creation is breathing differently now that we human beings are nestled inside homes. Nature is pondering what her life can be like with new air.

Then I decided to look at this whole thing in a different way.

I'm already an introvert, as are all but two of my family members. We are comfortable in the spaces of our familiar, surrounded by our books, art, music. Each of us has navigated being at home in ways that are refueling our spirits while we mourn loss of celebrations we were planning. We have found a calm and a renewal.

What if that is one of the possibilities that we embrace?

My city and suburb has extended stay-in-place indefinitely, cancelling all festivals planned for the summer, graduations are all but off and worship services have moved into virtual space.  Home will have to become the "it" stretching into 2021 and 2022, by some estimations.

So what do we do with this pace of slowing down? What can we consider new? What new thing can emerge from it?

I have been saying that one day we will open our doors again, and when we do, I want it to be to a world that does not exploit one over the other, that does not hoard all the toilet paper, that pays a full and fair wage so people are not pawns to a system, that home is for everyone, that healthcare is a living right and educational opportunities are not limited by zip code. That is the dreamer in me, but I believe some dreams can come true.

What new thing can we collectively imagine? How can we collective dwell in possibilities?

I don't have all the answers and like so many that I know, we are turning calendar pages, looking at all the crossed out events, and wondering how we survived 30+ days at home. We are also wondering if we will emerge whole in another 30+ days and 30+ days after that and another 30+ days when the leaves are supposed to turn, fall crispness fills the air and the rituals of back-to-school were supposed to greet us with a return-to-order from a summer of leisure. I don't know what it will be like on May 17 or June 17 or August, September, or January 2021.

The only thing I know is that this will pass.

I heard a well respected female Bishop say in a facebook chat that new life can emerge from death, that there is a resurrection. We will emerge.

There is an ancient passage in the Bible, in the Book of Philippians that reads, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Sounds so simple, but that is really what makes it beautiful. I can't change that Covid19 swept across the country and that those who had information going back to November and January chose to ignore the warning signs. I can't change that it spread like wildfire. I can't change the lives lost. I can't change any of it. So why let myself be anxious about the unknown that is and will be tomorrow?

If I can't change it, what can I do?

Every morning, I give thanks that I am alive. Over the course of my son's time in the ICU and the piercing ppppprrrrring of my phone at 9am, I would give thanks that the report was he was alive, he did not die that night or the next or the next. I give thanks for food and shelter and hygiene and my daughters who are home with more time to spend together before the older one goes to college. I give thanks for wisdom and the people who have collectively taken care to stay home for we are all in this together. And I whisper my prayers for the possible, for the tomorrow, for when we will open our doors again.

So, join me in that. In the one month+ since I've been home, since so many things have happened, and breathe. Sit still. Close your eyes. and smile. You are here. I am here. And that is beautiful.  We will emerge.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Be-ing in Covid-19: Another Monday

The days are melting together like ice cubes on the table.

It doesn't feel right.

Was it meant to be like this?

Just sitting there, not where it belongs, refusing to leave.

Until it has succumbed to the atmosphere, outside it's element,  and gives up its existence.

The days are melting together like ice cubes on the table.

This is another Covid-19 Monday.  I think I'm beginning to lose count of the days. My daughter said she feels like she is in an endless loop of Groundhog Days. When do we wake up from this nightmare?  When do we know that we can start the day and not be greeted with news of yet another one passing? When do we get to open our doors and be human again, together?

There have been attempts to try to keep a normal schedule. I certainly have. Morning greets me with her gentle kiss and I begin the days in hope. My routine begins and ends with coffee, time in meditation in the ancient wisdom and poetry of the Hebrew Bible, and ends with a nod to the day. I begin, I sit at my laptop and I begin.

I thought it would be no different for me, I work at home anyway. How hard would it be to sit here and do what I do, Monday-Thursday?

It is harder, each day.

Harder because Zoom is exhausting.

Harder because death looms in the air and you wonder if the one who Zoomed with yesterday is like you, praying for the life of someone dearly loved?

Harder because what was supposed to be has come to a crashing stop.

So, we try, every day, to look out at the trees and see something new.

The wisteria started to bloom, that's nice.

Sunshine is trying to peak through the morning cloud cover that is this Midwest spring, that is nice.

The birds sang their morning praise, that's nice.

Life is still happening.

The occasional delivery truck quickly brings sustenance to cloistered homes and zips back to safety.

Dogs still have their morning constitutional and masked walkers try to hurry them along.

It is quiet, though, on my street.

Almost too quiet.

Is that the point of all this, that we are supposed to just sit here, sit in the stillness and ponder what we took for granted? The nonchalance with which we went to the grocery store for more than the hope of toilet paper and bread. The casual meetings at the coffee shop over beans we neither picked nor roasted and easily plopped down $5 for a latte. The mall as meeting place for consuming more to make us feellooksmellbe better.

Did we collectively take it all for granted?

What if I didn't complain about the three-hour-practices during track season that interrupted my time - at home?

What if we didn't begrudge driving across town for that one hours meeting when the time it took to prepare and drive was much longer?

What if we actually cared for the people we met every day while out in the world?

How do we consider being new?

What does that even look like?

We have never been here before.

And, perhaps that is the point the universe wants us to know. This is the great unknowable.

We may never know, so we have to trust.

Trust in ourselves to remember to do what we can to be healthy, trust in our neighbors to do the same. We have no choice, we are not in this by ourselves.

So, we start another Covid-19 with weary parents teachings students subjects they long forgot. Or meetings planned where we hope the virtual background works because we didn't invite our coworkers into our homes. We start again, counting how many rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap we have until we have to put on the ask and go out into the world.

We start again, every day. Every one is new and different and necessary for us to bring our whole being into it.

#AloneTogether is the new hashtag that is circulating through social media and commercials. We are being reminded of this.

And one day, we will open our doors again and hopefully, we will emerge ready to embrace the gift of each other and of be-ing in community together, and never take it for granted again.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Still Believing in the Possible

I have to still believe in the possible.

Even if I have been home for a month.

Even as the ravages of Covid-19 sweep through households like a death angel.

Even as high school rites-of-passage are cancelled.

Even as graduations are virtual.

Even as toilet paper has become the hotly traded commodity.

I still have to believe in the possible.

What if this season of sitting down - being at home, being among the things we've accumulated, eating the food we cooked, seeing the people we love, and enjoying the spaces we curated - was the thing? What if it was the intention, after all the running Ragged for the purpose of chasing some arbitrary thing  measured in dollars, was to remind us of what life was truly about?

The possibilities.

Absent the constant running to reach some unreachable goal called success, what if the real meaning of being was in how we related to each other and loved each other and considered what was best for each other?

This is Holy Month for three monotheistic faiths.

Passover began at sundown this week, this is Good Friday, and next week, Ramadan begins.

It is a time when we pause. All three literally have it in their theology to stop and consider the deepest tenants of their faith and the purposes for which they exist. It is a time of remembering that no one is here by accident and no one is here just for themselves.


We don't often have opportunities to imagine again how we can live together new, apart from the "isms" designed to separate humankind and to make humankind think that there is never enough for everyone. There is enough, including toilet paper, if we stop and consider the needs of the other greater than the wants of the self.

I am still believing in it.

Imagining what it will look like in June, July, or August when Covid-19 Stay-at-Home begins to lift and people open their doors again. It will one day be safe to go back out and gather together with people we love.

Perhaps that is what this period of resting in is meant to be. I know I have certainly been thinking about what can be new again. This spring, becoming new, inside, what if the period of rest was to give back what many of us lost by working endless hours? Spring always invite me to smile and be light in the blissful wonder of life as I emerge from the heavy cloak of winter. What if in this spring, still in the cocoon, that we become the best of ourselves and bring all of that together for the world we collectively inhabit?

The earth is restoring herself. We can do the same.


I still believe in them.  In the gift of taking a walk along the waterfront. Of the way the barista prepares my favorite latte, of the glint of the sun on a book as I read together at the park.

Let's live there for a minute and ponder together what we can be in a new possible.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Whatever Normal Is, I Don't Want It Anymore

Unknown - Facebook/Instagram Source
What in the world is "normal" anyway?

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, my quiet time, my muse time.

Per usual, coffee was made, and I had a moment to just be in the stillness of a sleeping household.

We've been in here for days, weeks.

Yesterday, there was a mention of returning to normal.

It had me thinking, what in the world is that?

If it is rushing through life to meet some arbitrary timeline to make some arbitrary meaning out of racing past myself, it is not something I want to return to.

Life is an incredibly precious thing.  Even more so if we stop and think that over 10,000 Americans from all walks of life have perished under Cover-19, and hundreds of thousands more are directly impacted either through recovering from it, losing employment from it, and upsetting what was their daily routine from it. Life is a precious precious thing, not to be wasted in scraping by trying to ekk out a living because some billionaire wants a gold toilet or some narcissist wants a pat on the back.


If that is normal, I don't want to return to the constant news reports of what the Dow is doing as an ode to this capitalist machine that constantly pits groups of people against each other with the "isms" being the underlying threads the knits it together.

There is an ancient passage that says you can't put new wine in old wineskins.

I've thought about that in these times when people have been forced to stop, literally, and not go out. Think deeply about what matters. Another pair of shoes? More gluttonous consumption? Shopping as entertainment? How in the world do these things matter?

Or is it that what people actually craved was the human connection, the ability to be in the world with someone else, to see and be seen?

Can there be a new normal when everyone has what they need?

No one hoarding because they have some capitalist greed mindset that they will get rich off selling toilet paper for $70 a roll or keeping it for themselves because the individualist mentality has them so bound up they can't consider that they are human together with everyone else.

I don't want a normal where children are not thriving in school because systems deem education a commodity to be consumed only to those in the right zip code. I want a new normal where their curiosity is met with possibility, regardless of where they are. What if they all had the access of the nation's best university libraries at their disposal and were allowed to learn at their own pace, not being penalized for not walking down a line like a robot? What if we were investing in their creative genius and not cogs in a wheel to follow a management schedule that is not meant for living. What if they were allowed to work in groups that did not prescribe to an arbitrary cut-off by age? What if they were all our children and we all invested in their bright horizons?

I want a new normal where the elders are revered for their wisdom and the gifts they have given us, not a continuation of generations attacking the ones who came before them for not being "woke" enough to meet their want-it-right-now demands. What if we actually sat at the feet of those who survived the impossible and have gained lessons on appreciating the gift of life?

I want a new normal where I can just be, where you can just be, just be and not have to put on a costume to go out into the world because the world may destroy your be-ing.

What was normal needs to not be anymore.


It needs to change and the earth has given us a warning sign. The time to do it is now.

Start all over and imagine again.

What was ever normal? What we had before was disfunction and overconsumption and exhaustion.

How about renewal and imagination and possibilities that are not measured in how many marbles one has amassed before they go home.

Perhaps I'm just dreaming.I'm the only one awake in my house, the morning chirping of the birds are my company and my mug from The Daily Press in Bed-Stuy is my comfort. Maybe there is a bit of longing in me as I journey through life and look forward to one day opening my doors again. I want to open them to a new world. Maybe it is the movie in my head that I imagine a place where the love if flowing.

What I do know is that whatever normal was before Covid-19, it can never be the same. So since it can't what about a new day, a brighter day, where we appreciated the gift of each other and never took for granted our next breath, the ability to be in company with loved ones, or simply a walk along the beach on a bright day.

Whatever normal was, I don't want it anymore.

I'm looking for a new being. Extraordinary, exuberant, excellent day. Beyond ordinary, beyond normal, reaching into exhilarating expectation.

I want possibilities.