Things I Have Learned Since the Lockdown

  1. My husband doesn’t have much real estate behind his ears.
    As a front line worker, but not in direct patient contact, my husband still has to wear a mask at his place of employment. Many of the masks are too small and pull down his ears, with a Dumbo effect. When he was able to secure some homemade ones with loops behind the ear, the loops were often too thick and pulled his ears down, as there wasn’t enough “back of ear” to support it. He’s taken to ordering some on Etsy and is trying to rehab the ones gifted to him with a sewing kit. I never really thought about the back of my husband’s ears, but it’s a conversational piece now.
  2. Quarantine Recipes means nothing goes to waste.
    Simple syrup and moonshine. Jasmine rice with sauteed onions and cheddar cheese. Eating a bunch of small random things in the fridge as a meal (Tonight was a hotdog, half a can of tomato soup, crackers with peanut butter and jelly, and cheese slices, followed by fresh strawberries for dessert) – I’m trying to save the actual meals I made for the work week. We are freezing bread and milk and stocking up on rice and other long term stable foods. “How much butter did this take?” my husband asks as he eats a homemade meat pie I made from scratch – both the crust and filling. “A cup of butter, two sticks.” “Oh my God Simonne, we can’t go through butter like that.” Needless to say, I’ll be holding back on the cookies and pastries. We worry that supply chains with fresh food might become a luxury instead of a staple if things really get off the rails, so we’re trying to use less of everything and freeze as much as we can. It’s our way of being proactive instead of reactive, that’s all.
  3. I’ve got friends in old places.
    I’ve managed to make connections with my past. A boyfriend from high school contacted me, but it was really a pitch for a business venture, which I am wholly unequipped to do. He was not interested in my technical writing expertise. I burst out laughing when he wrote I would be a great pick for his sales department because of my extroverted nature. Hello? INFJ here and I’m awkward as…well, you know. I suddenly remembered why our relationship never worked. I reconnected with a friend who was a collegemate of mine. I’ve rediscovered her blog and have thoroughly enjoyed our correspondence. A pen pal I had in middle and high school got back in touch with me and we hope to FaceTime soon!
  4. I can’t do church online.
    I got called out for it, but I cannot bring myself to remote into a worship service via my internet connection. The whole thing is unappealing to me. My church did a BYOBAGJ (Bring Your Own Bread and Grape Juice) to a Zoom session during Holy Week and I could not. It felt so inauthentic. I also hesitated to do a Zoom bible study, but now I’m rethinking that, simply because I have no contact outside of my Pray As You Go App – which is about as far as I will go with the online stuff.
  5. I’m not crocheting much.
    Back in the pre-pandemic days of yore, if I was sitting, I was crocheting. I bought more yarn, thinking I would turn out an Afghan a week, yet I’ve barely picked up my hook. With the stress of everything, I am perfectly content to just sit. And be.
  6. Life isn’t all that different.
    If you take away the fact beaches are closed, no more causal grocery trips, no church, and nothing is open, my life is about the same. I go to work. I come home. I putz in the garden. I run. I write. I watch an old German soap opera. Getting together with friends is a Herculean effort that requires much advanced planning in normal times – and now, I’m not going anywhere near them in fear I’m an asymptotic carrier, as I am still working in an office and seeing patients. I’ve basically been quarantining for years. I don’t mind.

In the Desert

I know Lent is the proverbial wilderness exploration in the liturgical calendar, but as someone who doesn’t follow the crowd – even when I choose to – I find myself in a wilderness in the season of Easter, this side of Pentecost.

I’m sure part of it’s the lockdown and lack of social interaction outside of my husband and my co-workers (that I barely see, I’m tucked away in the back). I’ve tried to keep up with friends via text – mostly just asking how they are and how all this is impacting their particular circumstance. I’m still working, I don’t have kids – quite boring compared to some of the cataclysmic situations my friends find themselves attempting to navigate with no outside help.

I’m a perpetually show-up-early-to-everything person, so it’s no surprise I’m hitting peri-menopause in my late 30’s like my mom. No one prepared me for the night sweats and other symptoms. In some ways, I feel like I’m twenty again and in other ways, I am reacting to situations that would have never crossed my threshold for fury before. My husband was convinced I had a fever the other night – but I knew it was just me being warm. I’ve always been an even-keeled person, but predictable hormone surges are causing an intensity in me that is unfamiliar. I’m trying to adjust to my new normal – like a super-power I have to learn to control so it doesn’t control me. I’m sure it will all change again as this phase of life progresses.

If it’s possible to socially distance from yourself, I’m in the thick of it.

I’m far from alone in this. I find myself drawn to the stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early church. They lead a monk-like existence in the middle of nowhere wastelands. Their days were spent living off the land, in contemplative prayer, quietness, and offered great hospitality to any traveler that presented at their door. They reflected the love of the Lord to each other and to those outside their community. Except for the hospitality bit (simply because I want to keep those I care about safe from this terrible pandemic), I feel this is where I’m pitching my tent until I figure out where to go from here.

For me, this means pulling back from the fray and spending time in silence before God. My garden has become a source of rest, at times irritation, but ultimately a way to slow down, observe, and partake in the Lord’s creation. My soul isn’t finding rest anywhere else right now.

My circle has gotten much smaller, as I truly believe social distancing will be the only way to survive this. However, I will keep reaching out with what I have and offer it to others.

My next move is to read “The Cloud of Unknowing,” written by an anonymous European monk in the 1300’s about contemplative prayer. In this age of megachurches, online worship, Christian influencers, and an Americanized Jesus, I want to know how those living in the middle ages sought God. How did they use the Bible? How did Scripture sustain them when plagues were rampant, when they didn’t go along with the culture, and how did they worship in a desert? I hope to glean some understanding from the first thousand years of my fellow Christians’ walk with the Lord and perhaps employ their wisdom in my own walk, as I meander blindly into the future.

[Mother] Theodora said, “Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.”

[Mother] Syncletica said, “Imitate the [tax collector], and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water.”