Thanks for dropping by!
As our family slogged through our COVID quarantine last September, the OK Go song “This Too Shall Pass” kept coming to mind. Although in some down moments I changed the lyrics to match the book title “This Too Shall Last.” It was a challenging time of isolation and improvising that set us back quite a bit.
This time our three kids have all tested positive, although none have had symptoms beyond a runny nose. Oddly enough, another OK Go song came to mind: “Here It Goes Again.”
We’re back to wearing masks indoors when we’re around our kids, doing schoolwork at home, squeezing in our own work, and my wife and I having brief conversations whenever we can manage a minute or two without a child interrupting us.
There are a lot of thoughts and emotions that come bubbling up in a moment like this, which means there’s a lot to work with when it comes to spiritual formation and growth… Yay?
First, a few links:
I Have This Book Covered
I distilled some simple practices for prayer and writing into the short eBook The Contemplative Writer: Loving God through Christian Spirituality, Meditation, Daily Prayer, and Writing. It’s like a VERY abridged version of Pray, Write, Grow
and Flee, Be Silent, Pray with just enough to get you started. I love hearing how much it has helped readers. I recently gave it a new cover so it matches my other independent books.
Overlooked Good News about Vaccines?
No link here, just an observation: Maybe we’re so used to polarization about the COVID-19 vaccines that it’s easy to overlook how the two most recent presidents in America, from separate political parties, both fully support getting vaccinated and getting a booster shot. We need to take unity where we can find it these days!
Why Is Critical Race Theory Being Used to Divide Us?
Author Clint Smith shares, “I think you have this incredible amount of pushback from people for whom asking questions of American history is an existential threat, because then they have to ask questions of themselves. And they have to reassess their own sense of who they are and how they fit into that.”
Facing the darkness of racism in our history and culture doesn’t have to result in self-loathing or division. It’s an opportunity for honesty, confession, and renewal—all things well within the wheelhouse of Christianity.
We Could Have Built Tornado Resistant Houses in the 1890’s
A study of the devastation in Mayfield, KY, just down the road from us, concluded that a number of long-known, inexpensive modifications to building practices could have made the impacted homes much stronger and safer.
“Birds Aren’t Real” Highlights Conspiracy Theories
“What Birds Aren’t Real truly is, they say, is a parody social movement with a purpose. In a post-truth world dominated by online conspiracy theories, young people have coalesced around the effort to thumb their nose at, fight and poke fun at misinformation. It’s Gen Z’s attempt to upend the rabbit hole with absurdism.”
And now, on to the newsletter…
Last September we quarantined our family for 10 days when our daughter caught COVID-19 from her day care. Now, all three of our kids have tested positive, despite two of them having been vaccinated—thankfully one has zero symptoms and the others had mild symptoms for two days.
My wife and I both have our booster shots in December and tested negative.
As we started sorting through this situation on Tuesday, I felt that same fog of decision fatigue and a sense that I couldn’t keep track of what I was doing as our “to do” list and decision list grew. I was finding half-done tasks all over the house like laundry partially moved to the dryer or a partially unloaded dishwasher.
We are long past the fear of COVID in our family, even if we certainly didn’t want our kids to get it. Yet, quarantine is hard on us practically and mentally, and there’s always a slight chance of complications. I think that tension between the mental challenges of managing this moment and the relatively low risk our kids face makes it such a difficult balancing act over how cautious to be.
Even after we’ve sorted through most of the decisions necessary for organizing our family during quarantine, there’s the constant awareness of when to wear a mask, when to open a window, when you can take a mask off, and who can be in a room with who and when.
The decisions only multiply as we try to parent our kids while we sort out work schedules and appointments we made months ago. Tuesday, and even Wednesday, felt like we were just making decisions and sending emails and texts all day. Today was a lot more of the same.
It feels like we live with the tension of this pandemic every week, but once a household gets a positive case that tension builds to a crescendo since there are so many decisions and variables thrown into the mix.
My friend Shawn Smucker once said to me that he never wishes time away. He wants to savor every moment, especially while his kids are living at home. Part of the challenge of a COVID infection in our family is the temptation to look ahead to the end of quarantine, to skip past the hard parts of the moment in order to imagine how much better things will be in a week after our quarantine has ended.
While we all need some hope in the short term right now, there is something holy about submitting to the weight of the present moment and accepting how things are. God is present in the disruption, the decisions, and the unknown of today, and I’m not going to make things any better if I spend my time disengaging or looking beyond what’s going on right now.
Adding to the overwhelm of decisions and the temptation to disengage from the moment, there’s also the rising anger and frustration at those who continue to resist wearing masks during an unprecedented surge of infections. While cases sky rocketed and COVID tests became scarce locally, our school superintendent resisted mask mandates until yesterday despite the obvious community spread of COVID and our hospital reaching its ICU capacity.
One of the most important components of my contemplative practice has been learning to let go of thoughts while turning my intention toward God. This pandemic has obliged me with unlimited chances to let go of anger and frustration, even if these emotions are appropriate responses to difficult circumstances.
So much of this moment is a difficult dance where we have to be honest about the challenges before us and the validity of our emotions, but we can’t lose ourselves to distractions or surrender fully to our anger, fear, despair, etc.
Escape and distraction won’t bring the relief I desire or the restoration God offers.
Giving in to anger, frustration, or fear is just a downward spiral with no end. I think we all know that, but resisting those emotions and feelings in the heat of the moment is another matter altogether.
I’m grateful for God’s loving presence today, and my hope and prayer for us is that God’s love can lighten the load of what we are bearing.
Thanks for reading,