November 27, 2020

So far as Thanksgivings go, I suppose it’s been an odd one. Yeah, yeah, I know-everyone feels that way this year. But just because something is commonplace, doesn’t make it any less true. And the truth is that the world is tired this year. We are mutually weary and weighed down by the reality of life in quarantine. So yes, in my family as in most, this day of festivities looked different than that of years past. Last year we traveled across the country, gathered with a large crowd of relatives, explored new sights, ran with a crowd of other Turkey Trot participants, and thought that it was just another holiday that would happen again next year. Then “next year” arrived …

This year we went to a church service in which a building that used to hold hundreds of people held a virtual handful of masked and solemn participants.

This year we walked down neighborhoods that felt eerily silent, every once in a while passing a house that appeared to have more cars parked outside than was probably permissible considering the size of the house. We held hands and ate a packed lunch in relative silence.

I had a thought that led to a phone call that led to a road trip. We waved and blew kisses and hugged-from afar-the grandmother I’ve been unable to touch for almost 9 months now. The effort of a brief greeting made her eager for her afternoon nap so she abruptly waved her goodbye and retreated back to the four walls that have safely – safely? – contained her for said 9 months.

Back at home we busied about with the usual household tasks. Peter walked the goats, then milked our miracle doe (who is well past when she should have dried up but is still supplying our daily milk). I took comfort, after a frazzling week of dealing with patients in the crazy world that healthcare is these days, in vacuuming our carpet and mopping our floors.

But I also succumbed to weariness in the midst of it. Today the sun was shining brightly. Yesterday the rain was cold, and relentless-making my outdoor post at work miserable, to say the least. I had channeled my inner PaCharley, looking for ways to brighten my own spirits by surprising others (insisting on ushering people to the cars with an umbrella, for instance). But my body was chilled to the bone.

So the stark contrast of today shocked my system in such a way that, come afternoon, I hit a lull in which all I wanted was to lie in the sun. And that, my friends, is precisely what I did. I found a patch of sunshine, laid down on my yoga mat, and dozed. Peter and I both did, in fact.It was the most productive unproductive thing I think I’ve done in quite some time. [Peter would like to chime in here, adding that it might be the only time I have successfully accomplished his favorite yoga pose-Shavasana] The Vitamin D warmed my body, soul, and heart. The rest prepared us to spend the evening laughing and feasting with mom and Lou. Yes, it was just the 4 of us this year. But it was good. It is good.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.


November 16, 2020

I’m scared. That is the feeling that I have to name each time I slow down just enough to allow a shoot of my inner reality to peek through the frozen crust of my outer facade. But the crust is quaking-weakening as the tangle of vines underneath it grows feverishly, fertilized by the booming voices of news briefs, social media posts, and workplace conversations. Here we are, at the tail end of a year of what would have been laughably unbelievable if anyone had described it before the reality of 2020 barreled onto our world; and just as we were beginning to be hopeful that we might have made it through the worst, and may be on the upswing…suddenly a wave-a tsunami-seems to be on the horizon.

I want to shake my fist at the sky, à la Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump. 

What are you doing to us, Lord? Are you trying to destroy us? If not, then I think you have sorely overestimated our capacities-my capacity. I’m done. I give up

Some days, and Sundays are oftentimes the worst for me (due to the absence of work distractions, no doubt), I wonder what good my life is doing anyone. Even for the most introverted of us introverts, it gets hard to see the value of ones work without some sort of social outlet. In my case, I think that my role at church has been the hard part of it; for most of my life, I’ve gotten a great deal of my purpose from my roles as a worship leader, choir director, or ministry worker. My world now revolves around the workweek, with even that being a rather low-rung, intern position. I’m a nameless and, quite literally in mask/face-shield world, faceless entity. I test urine samples, clean examination rooms and, once in a blessed blue moon, get called on to put probes on a big pregnant belly till the sounds of little heartbeats echo through the room.

But I digress.

What I was going to say (“till truth broke in with all her matter of fact about the ice storm,” as Robert Frost so aptly penned it, and as I so overly quote ☺️), was that life is rough these days.

The other morning I heard a quote that I’m going to intentionally misquote, as I have no way of figuring out what the origin was…but it was a mother of twins, talking about the early days of adjustment. Basically, she realized at a certain point that, “You drown and you drown and you drown, and then, one day, you realize that you’ve grown f-ing gills.” In other words, she wasn’t so much not drowning anymore as growing the internal skills needed to survive.

I didn’t intend for this bit of writing to go in this direction. But perhaps this is the direction it needed to go: some of us are growing in a way that leads (forces?) us to let go of old habits that rely on others for our needs, be they real or perceived. Perhaps it is time to dig deeper than we’ve ever dug before. And perhaps…dare I risk the boldness of these words? Perhaps this is when we find that what we really need is what is right here within our reach? Our closest loved ones. Our lives. And the One who created that one, blessed life. 

*photo from a rare in-person church service we visited this morning. Communion meant opening a small, surprisingly complicated package of wafer -plus- grape juice. I inadvertently opened the juice before the wafer, squirting out a splatter of it so that my husband ended up helping me attempt to jimmy the wafer out. It was a blessed privilege to participate in a live service…but also a sad reminder of this strange world in which we live.

I find it hard to imagine Christ passing around to his disciples a vacuum-packed package with a wink and a “Good luck with that!” 

So what’s the point of all this rambling? I guess I just want to say “carry on.” It matters. It has to matter. We’re all struggling right now. It’s hard. So grow those gills. And know they each bubbly breath you take is a bubble of hope for another gill-grower nearby.


November 11, 2020

Relaying the conversation to my husband later that night once we were both home from work, I wept. I didn’t know I would do so … it had just been a single moment in the midst of a rough and too-rushed day. But it had been the moment that marked itself on my soul in a way that was clearly more powerful than its apparent meaning lent it to...

I had been a fly on the wall, as so often I find myself these days: a “gopher” … a stand-with-my-hands-clasped-waiting-for-the-next-request-secretary-of-sorts. 

The conversation taking place was a recap of the morning office happenings, revolving around a troublesome patient who had provoked a fair bit of dramatic complaints. As one of them relayed the patient’s words and actions, with a significant amount of mockery, a response was given that “Yes but she’s still a human being -and deserves being treated like one.”

I thought to myself “Thank you!,” grateful for the bold words, and thankful that they had come from someone with authority in this place, and so, hopefully, would have an impact on the too-often-catty speech environment.

The one who had been somewhat reprimanded began to try justifying herself, though she was clearly also aware of the truth. But suddenly, to my shock, the supervisor added, “I’m just kidding.”

The one who had been complaining stopped in mid-sentence, laughed a bit, hesitantly, and continued on with the topic at hand.

I was stunned. Lord have mercy on a world in which promoting dignity and humanity is not worthy of standing strong, of speaking up. Lord have mercy on a world in which a child of God is turned away … and, quite literally, thrown out the door in disregard of a plea for help. Lord have mercy on us all.

*photo is from a walk I took to, literally, catch my breath from the drama of the day (and from the constraints of mask+face shield+lab coat+gloves that barricade me for 8 hours of each day). The street is one that I found surprisingly lovely, considering the surrounding area…and that I found particularly refreshing, with my [unmasked] cheery greetings of porch-sitters as I passed. I think I amused a number of folks with my yellow sunhat and rolled up-pant leg-scrubs.