If you are just joining us, catch up on our “Sheltering in PEACE” journey here: “Isolation Blues” Archive
This is my view from my corner chair where I read, write, and guzzle tea. I do not have a before-COVID picture to show you . . . not being a city-girl, I was never inspired to take one before now. But the contrast is striking.
It is as if a convoy of street-sweepers has come along and just swept everything up—the cars, the constant, the chaos . . . the noise. This spring, for the first time, I have heard crickets in the evenings. The mall parking lot which before was always—but always— full has laid empty for two months. The traffic, the honking, the shouts, the planes, the construction zone—all have vanished. The lights that usually flood the mall parking garage in a neon glow well past midnight have now given way to a dark sky. The sky that has stars and we never knew.
There is a strange stillness, a somber quiet. It is odd, and eerie, and loaded with significance as dark as the sky. I realize that in this darkness there is the reflection of the hardships that are facing our city and thousands more all over the world. And yet, amid the darkness, there is beauty. Beauty that has been there all along but was blurred for how fast we’ve been moving. Beauty that has been shoved aside to make room for our modern pace of life.
A few weeks ago, as I read to my son on the patio just to get some “fresh” air and sunshine, I heard a sort of clapping and smacking coming from the empty mall parking lot. Normally, I wouldn’t have noticed it through the cacophony of . . . city. But amid the new normal of gentle nature and neighborhood noises, it caught my attention. I paused from reading to look up. A group of half a dozen teen boys had made an impromptu (as well as controversial and more or less illegal) skate park out of the never-before-empty mall parking garage. Even as I slightly judged them for playing little skater-punk versions of Typhoid Mary, I couldn’t help smiling. I think a skate park is about the best use of a parking garage I’ve ever seen.
And the impromptu skate park isn’t the only new addition to our block. Along the canal, have been more birds than I’ve ever seen here before. There have always been ducks, but now there are water birds of all kinds with calls I have never heard . . . or at least have never been able to hear. There’s some sort of egret who has made it’s home near the water that I have only before seen in the Everglades. And a flock of green parrots now flies past our patio a few times a week and lands on the roof of our building. It’s as though the birds are celebrating an unencumbered spring. There have been bubbles and chalk, Frisbees and kites, yoga mats and free-weights, fishing rods and kayaks, roller-blades and bikes (even a random high-bike) . . . all set to the soundtrack of laughter, bird calls, whoops, and barks. The walk along the canal has become a playground, a dog park, a yoga studio, a rehabilitation center, a nature preserve.
I am not naïve enough not to know that this beauty, this peace, this pause does not come at an incredible cost to so many . . . likely to us all. Regardless, I can’t help notice the beauty, the simplicity, the peace that is emerging out of the now-normal darkness. I hope you have noticed also. There is beauty, there is renewal, there is faithfulness, there is hope. There is good coming out of this! I truly believe that there is! I also believe that there is a lesson, or thousands of them, in this pandemic. We have before us an opportunity for our culture to reexamine what drives us. A chance to take a step back and just . . . be. All in all, an incredibly difficult lesson in gratitude, peace, and surrender.
And so, today, I want to encourage us all to embrace gratitude in this season. Even as I write that I feel an overwhelming responsibility to clarify that I am not referring to those struggling with this virus head on, for themselves or for a member of their families. And yet, it’s amazing that the people who face the most pain in life often seem the most grateful, even the most at peace. But that is a topic to explore another day. I am referring to the majority of us who in this pandemic are facing more of the fallout than the fall. Even as we are struggling with fear, financial stress, and sudden home-education, can we notice the birds, the kites, the bubbles, the stars? Can we listen to the new sounds of laughter on our street, and smile at the new faces that have emerged from staring at tail-lights on their daily commutes to their new daily-grind of sitting and staring at us from their porches and patios? Can we whoop along with the car parades and sing happy birthday to our no-longer-stranger-neighbors?
Can we open our eyes to witness the mercies that are sprouting up through the ashes? The extra time with our spouse and kids. The miraculous faithfulness of nature and renewal of spring. The respite, the quiet, the peace. Can we accept the opportunities that come along with the challenges? Can we have faith and hope for the future?
Let’s lead by example, and show our kids how to accept struggle and hardship with courage and grace, embracing purpose for today, and instilling hope for tomorrow.
So, to kick things off . . . here’s a little hope for tomorrow:
- Also, check out this awesome post by “Granny Hat”: Rear Window
PS. They turned the mall parking garage lights back on . . . I’m convinced it’s to keep tabs on the skaters. Roll on home boys, roll on home.
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~