This Corona Virus situation is not my first rodeo. Seventeen years ago, I spent nine months in quarantine while my son Charlie was in treatment for stage 4 cancer at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. No church. No gym. No outings to restaurants, no hosting dinner parties, no visits from friends and family, no Friday night date nights with my husband to the movie theater. Life as I knew and loved suddenly stopped completely. We even had to send our Louis-dog away. It was a scary and totally life-disrupting season. We were sequestered for what felt like an eternity in our tiny little apartment on Riverside and 100th street. Fear was always lurking, and some days it took the seat of honor at our dinner table. There were daily tears and weekly meltdowns. I wall-papered the walls of our apartment with scriptures and encouraging words begging for protection and glimmers of hope. I started writing and took daily walks for just sanity. The hardest part was the “not knowing” what the next day would hold, how bad it would get, and when or if life would ever go back to normal. The Corona virus has made me a passenger again on that rollercoaster ride of up and down emotions. One moment, I’m peaceful, even elated for this time-out-of-time with my family, cooking and taking walks together, phone catch-ups with family and friends, extra time to read and write, and popcorn movie nights. Just as quickly, I can slip into an interior black hole of worry. Corona has called into question the security of everything that is important to me: family, their health, job and financial security, plans and carefree fun. Confinement is demanding my best virtues, revealing some flaws and bringing me daily to my knees.
I remember snorkeling in a beautiful Hawaiian bay when out of nowhere my husband and I got caught in a dangerous rip tide. My first instinct was to fight the tide and swim as hard as I could back to shore. I was no match for the tide. Next, I panicked and tried to jump on my husband’s back which only put us both in jeopardy. It wasn’t until I surrendered and floated with the current that I eventually was brought to a safe and new shore.
These are strange and unsettling times for all of us. We need to be vessels of peace staying afloat, waiting to find our way through the riptide. The confinement during Charlie’s cancer treatment was a frightening time, but more beautifully it was a sacred, God-centered time filled with many surprises of true joy. Following are a couple of suggestions for surviving the Corona Upheaval!
- This is not forever. Create a daily routine.
- Look for any silver linings.
- Make joy a choice and a daily discipline. Enjoy simple things like tea and a cookie at 3 in the afternoon, set the dinner table with fresh flowers, call old friend’s on the phone, escape in a novel.
- Try something new like exploring your family tree on Ancestry.com, challenge yourself with the NY Times Crossword Puzzle, dare new recipes on my blog (my pesto, chili and granola recipes last for days!), plant an herb garden, visit a museum online (The Louvre, The Vatican, and the MET are surprisingly fabulous!), commit a scripture to memory like “Be still and know that I am God.”
- Be kind to yourself. For me, this means time alone spent in nature, voracious reading, exercise, prayer, coffee and dark chocolate.
- If you lose your cool, weep an ocean, just fall apart, ask for forgiveness if necessary, and pick yourself up and try again. The sun will come out in the morning.
- Be generous. You are suffering, but I assure you there are those in far worse circumstances. Find a way to ease someone else’s burden during this time. Confined at home, one can pray with intentionality and cover lots of people.
- Reach out. If you “hit the wall,” email me your phone number at Farrell@breadandhoneyblog.net and I promise to call you with a word of encouragement! I taped this prayer for protection above our apartment door in New York City so long ago and now have brought it out again. St. Patrick engraved it upon his armor breast plate:
God with me
God before me
God behind me
God in me
God beneath me
God above me
God on my right, God on my left.
Together we can do this!
Never underestimate the redeeming power of a sense of humor! So many artists and comedians are doing their part in helping us smile through this! Check out Jimmy Fallon’s comedy show from home for a good laugh!