I had such high hopes at the start of this quarantine.
I was going to write prolifically and create and take advantage of this isolation that has been thrust upon us. I was going to clean and organize and sort.
Do all the things!
And then I realized how heavy this pandemic had hit me, and had hit the world. And I was suddenly so much more busy than I was pre-Coronavirus.
It sounds weird, of course. But thankfully I work in two professions (ministry and library work) that have allowed me to work remotely. Ministry isn’t sequestered behind four walls, nor is it confined to specific places in time or space. I have some specific library research tasks and projects that my managers have been so gracious, and creative, in figuring out and sending us home from the building for the foreseeable future.
Ministry especially has taken all of my creative juices to try and think innovatively and navigate new technologies (and tried and true ones, like the US Postal Service!) and new ways of connecting hearts and souls to each other and to Jesus in the absence of connecting bodies. Add in the challenge of worshipping through the season of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, and we’re talking a massive drain on energy and mental capacity.
Write prolifically and think creatively on new projects? Please. A fantasy. I’ve noticed other writers and artists and creative types expressing the same thoughts. This is a difficult time to commit to thinking and living creatively.
Never mind the collective grieving we’ve all been doing. My downtime from all these tasks has been spent scrolling mindlessly through Facebook for HOURS a day (my screen time usage is disgustingly high, and it sadly isn’t adding up for the productivity categories) or wallowing in a general feeling of malaise and despair. The only thing that’s saved me, really, is my near-daily time of exercise to pump some serotonin into my system, or looking forward to my bedtime re-read of the Harry Potter series.
I wish I had been tracking my moods during all of this. One minute I am fine, normal, and plowing through. Literally the next minute, I’ve been triggered by the trauma of it all, and I’m weeping in my kitchen. And the next minute I’ve moved on to the next emotion, and the next.
This week, I was supposed to attend a Sabbath retreat near the Tennessee mountains with several pastor friends. I had been looking forward to this time since I scheduled it in December, already knowing how a typical Holy Week wears me out. But….Coronavirus.
So I decided to take a few days to myself. It’s not exactly the Sabbath I would have taken in Tennessee, but it’s what’s available to me now. I’ve moved upstairs to my guest bedroom as a physical “getaway”.
The cats are very perplexed at this development, let me tell you.
And I’ve tried to refrain from any type of work — church or library. After Monday morning’s usual check in of adult responsibilities (paying bills, cleaning house), I checked out.
It’s been a breath of fresh air. I’ve already felt my creative energy for new projects return in a way that it hasn’t been felt in weeks. My sewing machine is out, I’ve got a puzzle set up on a table in front of the TV, and I have hope.
Unfortunately, this morning before I could begin my daily devotional time, I spent too long on social media, and felt the despair welling up. And being relatively hopeless at that moment, and lamenting our existence during this time of challenge, I turned fittingly to the book of Lamentations. This is what I found — may it be a comfort to you this day, as well:
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
I will rest in these words of Life, and hope in the newness that comes with trusting in God.
Sometimes the hardest times bring out the greatest, most comforting, and most creative works after all.
Stay safe, and be well.