Things done and left undone, things said or not said, acts committed or not committed…in this unfamiliar world of staying at home
Things I’ve noticed and observed in this unfamiliar world of staying at home
Confession: I’m suspicious of my and other people’s quick pontificating on the meaning of this pandemic or how it will change us all forever or what we are learning from it. We are a creative and adaptable culture. We learn swiftly and improvise with flair. It is our gift as Westerners, as Americans. Sheltering-at-home has given us opportunities for our imaginations to fire and our survival skills to flourish. We are also a culture with a short attention span. An addiction to newness and excitement is our curse. Quick conversions to the newest diet, exercise program, books, TV series, clothes, phones… make us restless for the next thing coming down the pike. (“A pike. What’s a pike?” We don’t even have those anymore, do we?) The semi-permanence of the pandemic has sunk in and many of us are now tired of sheltering-at-home. Boredom threatens to send us outside too soon looking for something else and the next phase of our lives. And here I am making a quick pronouncement about who we are and who you are and what we are all thinking. I shutter at my own efforts to make proclamations, especially since I know that the pandemic has not just inconvenienced some, but has had devastating personal and economic repercussions for many.
Observation: I like giving things away. Last month we closed the sale on our house in Memphis and stashed fifty years of stuff into a 10’x15′ storage unit. We gave away most of our furniture. Much of it was from our childhoods. I never knew that saying goodbye to tables, chairs, couch, credenza, dressers, a piano, desks…could be so much fun, so satisfying. We posted the items on Nextdoor one at a time. When someone was interested we moved the piece to the front porch—to comply with social-distancing—and watched and waved as neighbors piled things in pickups and on roofs of cars. In the Photos app on my phone, I have an album called Bless and Release. The items below are in the album as well as dozens of other pictures of things we have given away in the past fifteen years. Although we no longer want or need these items, I am grateful for all of them. Maybe now they will get to be loved by new owners.
Confession: I am a skeptic, sometimes even a cynic. Reread the confession at the top of the page if you doubt that. A few weeks ago I heard a terrific sermon about a famous skeptic from Elizabeth Felicetti at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA. Thomas, the guy who doubted Jesus and wanted proof that Jesus had wounds, had died, and had risen, was a skeptic. We faithful Christians often lambast him for his doubt. But Elizabeth had a different take on Thomas: “Jesus’ disciples needed a skeptic, so that other skeptics could see themselves in today’s resurrection story. (John 20:19-31) All twelve disciples had different functions, different calls. All twelve. Even Judas. Thomas earlier showed himself to be brave and faithful. His skepticism here led to great faith. Thomas was called to skepticism.” I like the idea that Thomas was “called” to be a skeptic. Healthy skepticism is clarifying and balancing. Whatever news sources I read and listen to, I need to receive with a skeptic’s mind and not assume it’s all true OR all false. When someone offers me a new product or a new way to live, I need to ask questions and weigh the answers. Part of my skepticism, however, is not healthy. It is just plain fear, the paralyzing kind that makes me incapable of decisions and action. My skepticism can be an intellectual pretense to hide that fear. I want to be be skeptical like Thomas but also “brave and faithful” like him. (To read Elizabeth’s whole sermon click here. It is both brave and faithful.)
Observation: I really enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles, especially with another person. Mostly I like the 500-750 piece versions. 1000-piece puzzles feel so hopeless, so interminable, and then there are the teeny tiny pieces forming endless swaths of brown or black. I also like the playfulness of the less complicated puzzles, like the one we are doing now called Tree-Dwelling Slowpokes, a 500-piece puzzle from a company called mudpuppykids. I bought the puzzle online from the Urban General Store in Chicago. I’m learning the names of some sleepy animals I never heard of before. Assembling a puzzle is also a nice way to spend quiet, communal time with a friend or to listen to an audible book together.