Among the hard things that have fallen out of this pandemical sheltering in place is the loss of ability to plan. So many squares in my day-runner are now neither full nor empty, just scratched with cancellations, and there are no future appointments down the weeks to replace them. A trip to see grands? an elective surgery? a dentist appointment? even lunch with the Tall Group? I feel stuck. Since I am used to planning for events, appointments and possibilities, I feel stuck many days!
I get some perspective when I reflect on how many people over the course of history and even in the present day are proscribed in their planning. Who could plan if they are incarcerated or under house arrest or in hiding? Who could plan when they set out, not knowing where they were going or who was taking them? Who can plan is their city is being bombed and occupied by hostile forces days after day? I have enjoyed a life that has afforded me so much latitude, so many choices. And I still have many of them! It’s just that the circumference of my choices has narrowed, and some days I chafe under the restrictions.
Therefore! today I am choosing to explore the edges of my time and space limitations:
- how can I honor and use my body in the hours in which I have energy? walk the labyrinth, stretch my legs, play the piano, bathe my muscles? all of these I can do without harming myself or endangering others, and can let Spirit energy flow through me.
- to what can I give my intelligence, to keep my mind flexible? so many resources are available through books, podcasts, blogs and newspapers, on-line or paper right now: daily news summary, a book on Native American philosophy and practice of living with the Earth, journeys with folks on pilgrimage–personal, memorial, spiritual, African-American spirituality.
- to whom can I reach out in the many modes of communication at hand? friends who are isolated by health or circumstance, those in suffering or in mourning, those with whom I have allowed too much time to pass in our togetherness. Even with sheltering in place, I now have Face Time, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, snail mail, text messages, phone; how amazing to be granted access to so many far and wide! And how freeing it is to choose one to express love, appreciation and grace.
- in what ways can I deepen my experience of the Holy One and the worlds that have been created? how can my journey of Spirit broaden without being able to “plan my work, and work my plan”? I have precious time for silence, and therefore, for prayer of many kinds–gratitude, reflection, hope, compassion, lament and need. I can join praying congregations on-line, adapting to singing along with the soloists, saying words of liturgy with the congregation in Spirit without hearing other voices, listening to a Word that come though a screen. And I can use my communication platforms to work for justice and kindness through my giving, my encouragement and my prayers.
What is more elusive is a daily plan. Almost daily my “plan” gets derailed by “tyranny of the urgent:” road closures, doings in the neighborhood, news from near and far. So without a plan, confined to quarters, I rest in these sacred and wise words from the Psalmist:
- my times are in your hands
- THIS is the day that God has made,
- I will bless the Holy at all times, praise shall continually be in my in mouth
In this time which feels hidden and fallow to me, there is still Spirit at work–in me, in the world, even when we feel stuck! Gratefully sighing!