My lightbox today spells out ‘What a time to be alive’. And ain’t it? Ain’t it just?
I’ve had words swirling in the my head for the last couple of weeks – an agitated swirling though with it’s rhythm unsettled and not helped by the bombardment of other people’s words and voices and thoughts. So, please, don’t read this if it’s just going to be another voice. You don’t need that. I don’t need that. Turn off your device and watch an episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ instead, that’ll be better for your soul.
But, stick with me, if you do want to hear what this ‘ole heart and soul and mind is making out of what is now our new reality.
We were living in America in 2011 when the Christchurch Earthquake struck. The big one. The one that killed 185 people and changed the face of that city forever in an instant. I’d just come out of the supermarket from an early morning shop (the boys started school before eight when we lived there – helloooooo productive mornings) when I got a call. For the following hours and days we were glued to our computer, to the news coming out of NZ, Waiting to hear if family and friends were ok. Family members were ok – homes were damaged but hearts were not. Friends, not so much. Michael used to work at CTV, a television station, and that building suffered horrific damage and massive loss of life. Loss of friends and colleagues. We felt so incredibly helpless. Here we were – on the other side of the world and completely unable to do anything practical to help. All we could do was pray and reach out via the internet. Reach out to friends who were also hurting and family members who had lost their beloveds.
We know what it feels to feel helpless.
Which is what it feels like right now. In the middle of a pandemic, when we’re actually ordered to stay home, to self-isolate, to only have one person of the family go out for essential supplies, and to have a high risk person at home, making you extra aware of the dangers out there.
There’s so much we can’t do. People are suffering out there, experiencing physical pain, financial loss, huge stress and massive amounts of anxiety. The thing I know most about pain and suffering is that it is lessened a little or a lot, by the presence of others. By people stepping into that pain to be with you. But we can’t do that right now, not physically, can we?
But. As I keep reminding myself, we can focus on loving the ones right in front of us. This isn’t the time for big heroics at all – it’s actually the time for those quiet, brave and bold moves, that no-one draws attention to, or throws a spotlight on, because the reality of those things, is that they are things we can all do. We can all do, each and every day.
We can love our families.
We can love our neighbours.
We can check in online or via the phone to our friends, near and far.
We can keep in touch with our work colleagues.
We can have Friday drinkies together – thanks to the technology.
We can respond to that random Whats App message from a family member about a topic that normally does not interest us one iota.
We can call those who are self-isolating by themselves to say hi, and even plan our walks to go past their houses on purpose if we can, to say a big fat hello over the fence. From a distance. Thank goodness that here in NZ we can still go for walks.
Maybe we need to start placing a bigger value on what can be perceived as smaller gestures of love, because something tells me that they are really the bigger gestures, the ones that really count. The ones that mean so much to people.
Mother Teresa is attributed for saying ‘What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.’. She also said ‘I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?‘. Boom. I don’t yet know all my neighbours. Hopefully I will before this lockdown ceases.
So often so many of us spend so much time worrying and fretting over what we see as our ‘mission’, How can we make a difference in this here world? How to be our best version of us?
I think the answer to that has never been clearer.
One of my favourite instagrammers posted this during the week:
If watering the plants right in front of us seem like not enough, then maybe we need to change our views on what’s really important right now. We need to flip our ideas of heroics. Just like what’s happening in the case of essential workers – we are now so very reliant and appreciative of those whose jobs weren’t necessarily deemed as important as others before this pandemic struck. And. May these perspectives stay our new normal.
We may feel helpless – but we’re not. We can offer help to those around us. It just looks a little different to normal.
We may feel inadequate – but we’re not. Those kids of yours may well be climbing the walls – but you are the very best parents for them now. And you always have been. That friend of yours may be really struggling – but you may be the only person who asks her how she really really really is. That boss of yours may be feeling like they are carrying the weight on everyone’s expectations on their shoulders – you could well be the only person to thank them for the effort they are putting into keeping your job going.
The little may seem little, but it’s actually everything.