Our New Normal: A World That is Temporarily Closed for Renovations
Was REM right? Is it "the end of the world as we know it"? On some level yes, as I can’t imagine the world will ever be the same again. This unprecedented time is certainly changing us all forever. So yes, I suppose it is the end of the world, as we know it. However, in my opinion, not the end of the world despite what the headlines say (prayers for those who are at the end).
In my meditation the other day, I envisioned a sign in front of a building, saying ‘closed for renovations .’ Go ahead, think of an example. Perhaps you have experienced your town building a new park, or renovating an old historical site. The renovations are often inconvenient and look quite unsightly and messy as they are occurring. Then the town announces the grand reopening perhaps with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the space that is revealed is often more amazing than ever. COVID-19 has caused the world to temporarily close. Our New York Governor has joined other governors across the country in signing a law stating we are to stay home, with the few exceptions of getting food and working if your job is considered ‘essential’. Looking at the list of essential jobs is quite interesting, as the highly prestigious financial industry members are classified as non essential and working from home and grocery store employees and sanitation workers’ work have never been more valued.
I envision the world after it’s grand re-opening. A world where we are grateful for the simple things that we previously took for granted: the library, the playground, sitting in a restaurant, and sending our kids to school! We thought these things would always be available to us. Now we have experienced their absence and their return will feel glorious. Events and social gatherings, who ever thought these would become a luxury? As an introvert, certainly not me. Social distancing, on some level, was music to my ears as someone who works from home and finds such reverence in solitude, mediation, writing and walking. I also got a lot of practice with stillness after recovering from my kidney donation surgery and subsequent abstaining from alcohol consumption. Still abstaining from alcohol till this day, social distancing came with it and I am thankful to have had the practice shifting to other pleasures in life. However, now facing the decision if I am ‘allowed’ to see loved ones and elected officials telling us no, the inverted world feels confusing.
For perhaps the first time in my life I am quoting the bible. A friend texted me a photo of a page of a bible from a mutual dear friend’s sister. She said it fell out of her prayer book that day. The verse traveled through several phones to get to me but it feels like it came to me for a reason and I feel compelled to share it with you. It is called ‘Quarantined!’ And under it states “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret.” -Psalm 37:7. It goes on to tell the story of French engineer, Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, in 1832 traveling on a ship and was quarantined when a passenger became ill. De Lesseps found being quarantined terribly frustrating and passed the time reading the memoirs of Charles Le Pere who had studied the feasibility of building a canal from the Rea Sea to the Mediterranean. 37 years later de Lesseps devised the plans for the construction of the Suez Canal, which proved to immensely valuable to de Lesseps-and the world. The point made in the prayer book that a ‘spiritual quarantine’ can prepare one for their further usefulness in God’s service.
As someone who thinks deeply about anything and everything and has the quote from The Alchemist on my wall that states ‘to realize one’s destiny is person’s only obligation”, I think this is a wise time to utilize the abundance of downtime to wonder why we are here and when the world reopens how do want to live out the rest of our time here. My time of still contemplation is interwoven with homeschooling my girls, making thank you cards for local business and get well soon cards for hospital patients who can’t have visitors, making bird feeders for neighbors to enjoy the coming of spring by staring out the window, cooking meals, and envisioning a force field of white light around my immunosuppressed husband who is working harder than ever at a hospital with positive tested COVID-19 patients; that he stay safe and live up to the Hippocratic Oath I saw him take when he graduated medical school. On the day of his graduation it seemed more for show but today I have never felt so proud of his pragmatic nature that keeps him grounded day in and day out. I take medition breaks throughout the day, so I don’t start screaming and I frequently get choked up when saying thank you for your service or when people ask how I am doing. These a
re dark times to be sure, but I have faith we will get through them. I have made that vow to my 6 and 8 years daughters I am certainly committed to ensuring to them that this too shall pass.
There is no doubt that more than ever endless emails, videos and great content are out there. I humbly submit mine alongside the rest of it all. In this crisis we all have our unique vantage points and never has it been more important to share our stories. In closing, stay strong out there people. The darkness is rising up from the ethers, it's our job to surrender it to the light to be transformed. In the meantime the darkness moving through us can certainly feel heavy and painful. I personally am experiencing moments of despair but that being said, I am grateful to be healthy, have food and honor the healthcare workers, grocery store workers, sanitation workers, mail carriers ect. that are working to ensure our basic needs are met. This is certainly a time for strong spiritual muscles and steadfast mental discipline of equanimity and hope. As I bike ride and bake bread with my kids trying to maintain some sense of normalcy while the world is closed for renovation I pray that the reopening is a world better, brighter and more beautiful than ever.