Beholden

light-sign-typography-lighting

The rain has been incessant this week, adding to the general gloom of quarantine, as if the whether were mimicking our mood. I’m slowly forgetting what it was like to get up in the morning, groom myself, and head out to work? It’s seems like another lifetime. I wanted to be efficacious during this furlough from life but instead I’m muddled, anxious, spacey (is that even a word).

I’m finding it difficult to remember if I brushed my teeth or not?

I assume I’m not alone in my apathy?

A close friend asked me to reflect on the deeper meaning of this pandemic, to consider if our current predicament could be the result of a radical “social distancing” from God, and if we’re living the reality we ourselves procured?

I see your hand going to the delete button. Don’t do it!

I thought this might inspire us to get out of our pajamas, wash our hair, fire up our brains? I’m kidding, let’s virtually fill our mugs, pull on those fuzzy slippers, curl up on the couch together, because groomed or not, I think this is worthy of our discernment.

For this to happen, I’ll need more then one point of view, don’t make me beg for comments.

We have to consider if our iPhone addiction, the time we spend on computers, and on our social media accounts has been a source of “social distancing” long before this was required? I don’t know about you but my hand is permanently curved to the shape of my phone, my head often bowed as if in prayer, but all I’m doing is wrinkling my neck.

What am I in search of?

I have to believe all the time we spend on our devices is giving us a false sense of connection?

I understand our definition of God will differ but what if we agreed that love was the elucidate idea here? What if God is manifested through acts of love, but if we’re all so busy worshiping our devices, we are in reality isolating ourselves from the very thing we most desire.

To love, to be loved, to belong.

Upon reflection one idea that surfaced quickly was just how connected we all are as human beings, we are truly one body, this has become inordinately apparent, or this virus wouldn’t have infected every corner of the damn world.

But I noticed something else that was spreading as fast as this virus ~ extraordinary acts of love.

I hear neighbors shouting to one another as they walk the eerily empty streets, “good morning, how’s the family, do you need anything?” It’s heart warming. As Elizabeth Gilbert notes resilience is our shared genetic inheritance.

It’s interesting don’t you think that our Lenten journey (representing the 40 days Jesus spent isolated in the desert, beginning on Ash Wednesday, ending Holy Thursday), has been a real “sacrifice” for all of us this year. We’ve had to desert our lives if you will, sacrifice our livelihoods, go without toilet paper, and most significantly each other. If ever our faith has been challenged, or strengthen, it has to be during this historic lenten journey of 2020.

Let’s take a closer look at these “extraordinary acts of love,” I’m talking about the people who “persistently and generously” assist others especially during this difficult time.

Seth Godin, a fellow blogger, author, community leader says, “it’s worth taking a second to think about people who are doing more than expected, more than they have to do, more than we can imagine,” under arduous conditions.

I’ve been handed the baton and I’m running with it.

I’ll start with my deep appreciation for all the healthcare workers out there on the front lines, risking their health to bravely attend to those who are sick, and most vulnerable. You are our heroes, I am ever so grateful for your generous, and brave service.

I type, you heal, see the difference?

There are the courageous souls who leave the safety of their homes every day because their work is essential. Here’s a shout out to our police, fire, and emergency crews. To those of you keeping the markets, gas stations, restaurants, and pharmacies open – thank you for showing up!

I want to thank my devoted colleagues who rushed to convert lessons into challenging flex learning on-line and found the time to connect individually with students who are reeling from this unprecedented shift in circumstance. To the faculty and staff of Notre Dame, I thank you, to the teachers and administrators across the globe, we are deeply indebted to you.

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me. ” Fred Rogers

Let us offer a hearty “here, here” to the tireless parents who woke up to a house full of uprooted kids, struggling to work remotely, or worse no work, taking on the arduous task of homeschooling, establishing new routines, and still caring for the needs of their extended families. They are employing both creativity and resilience to deal with more than we can possibly imagine. Hang in there, be good to yourselves, you’re managing much better than you think. Christopher Reeve says a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

We have to offer a big thank you to Zoom for handling an unbelievable increase in traffic without a hiccup in service. They are keeping us connected with students, friends, family, not to mention the virtual cocktail hours allowing us to stay home, sane, and social. Cheers!

I’m grateful for all the people who are delivering mail, food, and packages to an immobilized community, maintaining the essentials so we can stay informed, fed, and supplied. Bravo.

How about a shout out to the “elderly” community (yes, I qualify for early bird shopping, let’s move on), who bear a heavier burden, a greater risk, many not only sheltering in place, but many are doing it alone, with the pungent breath of depression breathing down their wrinkled necks, making isolation all the more isolating, and dismal. Stay the course, as you’ve seen before, this too shall pass.

Saving the best for last, a hearty thank you to everyone who is sheltering in place, maintaining a proper social distance, excessively washing hands, extending their kindness, and love in so many ways. I see you setting up beach chairs in the driveway, checking on neighbors, dancing in the street (six feet apart of course), singing from your balconies, drive-by happy birthday wishes, sharing much needed supplies, meaningful conversations, stretching your patience, and wallets, sweet notes from children on the sidewalk, walking your dogs, smiling, engaging, extending good-will, and empathy to complete strangers, who maybe have become friends. You know who you are and I love you.

I’d be remiss if I did not extend my deepest gratitude to those of you who read my blog, who enjoy wrestling with ideas that matter, we’ve been challenged here, and I want to thank you for leading, encouraging, and inspiring the best in each other.

I think we are greeting the unexpected with enormous love and faith, we are not failing, we’re kicking ass. My beloved friend Phyllis warns, “if we don’t have a true change of heart, a metanoia, the next crisis could be much worse.” I don’t think there is a question now about whether or not we will face another mega virus, we will, but has this experience prepared us to operate differently in the future?

Let’s not treat Corona like a fad diet, allowing our emotional weight to yo-yo, instead let’s break the frustrating cycle, make “love” our new norm. As Mike Alsford claims, “to be heroic may mean nothing more than this, to stand in the face of the status quo, in the face of an easy collapse into the madness of an increasingly chaotic world, and represent another way.”

I think grace comes to us when we realize the futility and temporary nature of all things, and although we resist this knowledge, we have to stop turning from one shiny new thing to the next, as if restlessness were our goal. The blessing comes when we discover how delusional it is to spend our days in search of something that never satisfies?

If we’re looking for a way in, and we thought it was embedded in our social media accounts, or an app on our phone, we were wrong. We’re not connecting, we’re confusing likes for belonging, distancing ourselves from the real source of love.

 “May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease, to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take” John O’Donohue.

This is not God’s wrath or revenge, this is God doing what God has always done, she enters into our suffering, she takes horrible situations, people, circumstances and uses them for God’s own purposes, for the good of humanity. If COVID-19 is the vehicle currently in God’s employ, I say bravo, we got this. God is like a wave, she’ll keep coming, until our resistance to her charms has completely eroded.

What are we in search of?

I don’t have the answer, I can’t tie this up with a pretty bow, my friend Sue says, “end it like a woman, we don’t need to solve everything, we just want to engage.”

Don’t make me beg for comments because I will: Sue, Mike, Larry, Bonny, Deborah, Krista, Seth, Lori, Nancy, Rich, Vicky, Debbie, Kathy, Ron, Jim, Karen, Lynn, Amy, Claudia, Susan, Kim, Laurie, Sheila, Janel, Blair, Gail, Katie, karen, Colleen, Elaine, Cindy, Jane, Crystal, Stuart, Mary, Jill, Phyllis, Greg, Steve, Lauren, Cheryl, Georgia, Marta, Rachael, Terri, Tony, Kelley, Dante, Tim, Nic, Julie, Thilita, Judy, Kara, Charli, Christine, Dennis, Donald, Ellen, Melissa, Margaret, Janet, Pete, Ana, Lisa, Mic, Lynelle, Marcy, Nicole, Sherri, Ivon, Lily, Cynthia, Connie, Clair, Robin, Sally, Sarah, Lisa, and DeEnna.

I’m Living in the Gap, avoiding the news, counting my blessings.

Anecdotes:

  • “Someone needs to fight, someone needs to sacrifice, someone needs to inspire, someone needs to be a hero.” Amit Kalantri  
  • I realize we’re desperate to relieve our terror and despair, but don’t send a check to panic.com for some miracle tonic, it doesn’t exist, it’s a shame! Put the credit card back in your wallet, call me, we’ll browse Nordstrom’s spring line.
  • Try and maintain a safe distance from the toxic people who are purposely amplifying our fear, charlatans who are profiting from the panic and unrest that has seized our communities, taking advantage of those most vulnerable. I say shame on you.

 

 

4 Comments

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  1. And Cheryl states: “Don’t make me beg for comments because I will.” I’ll be your Huckleberry!
    Great to see your words again. We all are doing well out here in the Midwest. Corona rolls on.
    I will skip over the inability to remember if you brushed your teeth (just give Larry a kiss, he will tell you if you didn’t.) I am glad you have now turned to the deeper meaning of the plague. Is this a reap what you sew moment for our world. Participating in a Passover dinner, reading about the plague, the angel of death, while living in a real pandemic, seems so spiritual. Was this God’s or nature’s way of refocusing our priorities? Do you now have a different view of what’s important (I get it, toilet paper?) Have you changed your mind on how to spend the finite yet unknown time you have left on this earth, prior to shuffling of this mortal coil?
    I do confess that I feel lost without my phone, though I am going to plead the work excuse (it’s a pager!) And yes, there is a false sense of connection, though I am sure I would be less connected to some people without the world wide web.
    I agree with your list of thank you’s. Many people are rising to the occasion. And of course, a special thanks to my rock, Gail, who may be having to put up with more quality time with me than she bargained for.
    I must confess that I have not experienced a true metanoia, though I am working on it. I continue to be impressed with how fleeting life can be. Clearly more time should be spent on things that have true meaning and importance. I do believe that we will likely have further pandemics. It is only a matter of how severe, and how often. I would recommend shutting down the Chinese wet markets. Of course, we don’t have much say in the matter, though pressure could be applied.
    I agree that it is kind of cool to be able to main a social distance from those we find toxic or don’t wish to be with.
    Love the Neil Diamond tune. Gave me quite a chuckle.
    Give my best to Nancy and Mac.
    PS with the total demolition of all my vacation plans, perhaps we can squeeze in a fall California visit provided this plague has resolved.
    “Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.” — Marcus Aurelius
    “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …”
    ― Marcus Aurelius
    As for the song, I realize it doesn’t quite fit, but since I read your appeal for comments I can’t think of any other song…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike, brave you are, for grabbing the battered baton, and running with it. Those of you lounging on the edges of the track are not getting any exercise! Just sayin.

      Thank you Mike for giving us all something to wrestle with and think about. As you celebrated the Passover this year I can only imagine the significance of the angle of death passing over your loved ones, especially this year. Can you imagine? The Christian tradition was initiated around a Passover dinner that Jesus shared with his disciples. I don’t think I would have shared my last meal with someone I knew would betray me. I guess that is what love does? Even so, tomorrow marks the pinnacle of the Christian faith, were Jesus becomes the passover lamb if you will, death (spiritual) no longer has the final word, it has been overcome once and for all. The traditions, both Jewish and Christian, are full of hope especially in times of deep despair and unrest, not unlike today.

      You write, “was this God’s or nature’s way of refocusing our priorities? Do you now have a different view of what’s important (I get it, toilet paper?) Have you changed your mind on how to spend the finite yet unknown time you have left on this earth, prior to shuffling of this mortal coil?

      Interestingly someone in my the workshop I taking asked me to write out a shitty first draft of my vision for the future. Then wait a few days and revisit it. Then wait a few more days and revisit it again. “My guess is that it’ll help you “flip” your view,” Paula said.

      This is what I wrote.

      I think I would like to start with Mahatma Gandhi who says, “The future depends on what you do today.” Every hour that goes by changes the potentiality of the future, as our past increases, the future recedes. I read that somewhere.

      I want a restructured educational system where my grandchildren excel in knowing not only important subjects like history, science, math, and languages but an education infused with ethics and the incredible skill of knowing how to learn. Providing different educational models that meet the needs of all students not just the pegs who fit neatly into the mold. This means turning our educational system upside down. Some of our most influential philosophers thought learning was all about asking good questions? I would love to see some of our best minds devoted to the task of revamping our educational model with Seth Godin leading the way.

      “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X

      The environment is key. If we destroy the planet, we destroy the future. I am astonished at the changes in our air quality which happened almost overnight. We now know we can do this but without the restraints of a deadly virus will we simply go back to our old ways of destroying the world because we’re so good at it? How can we hold on to some of this gain? An effective and accessible mass transit system might be a place to start.

      Knowing this is not the last mega virus our world will encounter how can we prepare for the next one? Is it possible to get good data, adequate medical supplies, quick community response, infrastructures that can handle the technological needs, safety nets, financial solutions, resilience, etc. What can we take away from this experience to inform our future?(And as Mike noted closing down the wet markets)

      We need strong leadership, therefore we need strong leaders, which means we need to foster leadership skills with our young men and women so we have a larger pool to draw from.

      We need influencers, therefore we need strong platforms, and as Buckminster Fuller says you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. What is this going to look like?

      The world is going to be different after Corona, things will not return to normal, we will have lost important services, people, how many of us make a living, but most importantly this will have created enormous need in communities all around the world. How are we going to meet these needs? If we don’t want the gap to widen even further we all need to face the reality that life will not be the same for anyone and by the way, if it’s not apparent, we’re in this together, it’s as if we are all refugees in in this vast world, not knowing the future, life is unpredictable, unsafe, and fear for our future is real.

      Albert Einstein said he did not know what weapons WWIII would be fought with but WWIV would be fought with “sticks and stones.” I suppose he meant we will be coming full circle, primitive is where we started and primitive is how it will end?

      We need strong storytellers, people who can write a new version of tomorrow, so the rest of us can expand our vision too. How will our stories be told? What are the platforms with the most potential? How can we learn the new skills we’ll need to amplify our voices in the future?

      I’m hoping for a more complex version of the future where some hard earned lessons are finally realized. Can we all agree hoarding is never good, shit happens, and there is enough resources for all, if we learn to use only what we need.

      That alone will change our future.

      I left a lot of stuff out but it’s a start. Love to know your thoughts on the matter?

      I’ll pass on your sweet salutations to Nancy and Mac! And yes a trip in the fall to the lake (praying there are still a few airlines in business and we’re allowed to travel) would be wonderful. Our reunion will be all the more potent after the sacrifices of this year.

      Sending our love to you and Gail, be safe, and well. Love, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha!
        Speaking of exercise, I have been using my Coronacation to try to get in the best shape of my life (could it be that I am a coward and have noted that a major risk factor for death due to Covid is an elevated BMI (code word for being fat?) Maybe I am just bored. Tiger King does nothing for me. If I want vulgar, I will watch Pulp Fiction.
        Accessible mass transit? They have it in NY City (mass transit for Corona.) Seems like there are too many people in the world. Of course, the only answer is to have no kids or grandkids. (You go first.) We could live where we work (Corona has shown us the way.) We could only have staycations (boring.) We could be quarantined for years. ARGH!!! I guess I will stick with planting a garden, turning off the lights, keeping the AC on 75, composting and trying to recycle.
        Since you have determined that this is not the last mega virus (I agree,) will you keep a 6 months supply of N95 masks on hand, along with 3 months cash, food, toilet paper, wipes, wine and coffee??? Will you lament when the next virus arrives and you along with 7 million (Bay Area population) of your closest neighbors all go to Costco and it can’t handle the rush?
        Can we all agree that hording is bad? Well, I guess if we can define it. Suppose the word comes out that a quarantine is coming down the pipe. Everyone goes to the store and buys 3 months supply of everything. After 1 day, they are out. Everyone complains but it does no good. If you thought your family may need to live on what you buy at the grocery store on Tuesday, you along with everyone else might stock up. The only answer is for the store to limit what they sell per person. It is human nature for people to want to provide for their loved ones. Good luck arguing against that. Seems like Mormons may have the answer on this one. Keep one year’s supply on hand and help others when needed and able.
        Things will quickly go back to normal after Corona. The world has a short memory. Especially if it costs money to do something about it. People are taught what their teachers want them to believe.
        I think, as you likely know, Einstein was commenting that after the development of nuclear weapons, WW3 would be the end of us, and world war 4 would be fought by what’s left of the primitive survivors. I pray that we can avoid that.
        Thank you for humoring my replies. Thank you for having the courage to speak your mind on many issues (some controversial!) Please don’t put me in the corner if I get out of line. 😊
        Who is the Queen of Corona?
        Listen closely and you shall find out (I think it is Rosie.)

        Liked by 1 person

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