A reminder to be gentle. These words appeared on my Facebook page just the other day. They offered an unfamiliar sense of calm, a calm I was grateful for. Tensions rise high as we try to get through this time of sickness and solitude. I see this in the news, talk about it with friends and sense it from the caregivers who come into my home to assist me. It is hard to feel settled, it takes focus to remember that we need to be a little extra right now.
I think of a conversation I just had with my mother. Here we sit in the same town and yet we have not been able to see each other, except ever so briefly, for the last four months. The retirement community where my parents live has done an amazing job of keeping residents safe. But, in order for this to happen visitors have been restricted. The distance between us is only a few miles but they might as well be the miles that stretch from coast to coast. How easy it was to take for granted the moments spent sharing dinner around a table, watching sports far into the evening or sitting quietly together reading books and telling stories. How we long for those moments now. And that longing can be exhausting.
To encourage, to stretch towards laughter – this takes intention and energy. I realize that each of us ebb and flow in our energy. When I am tired, really tired of having to hold back my concerns or my sense of loss, someone else rises with energy and kindness. This is like a dance. We greet one another in whatever way possible knowing that each of us experience the same thing right now. We are all drastically impacted by the same thing right now.
It’s a rare moment. A moment where we have a choice to show up impatient, reacting out of exhaustion or to show up letting that go, showing compassion and kindness.
The presiding Bishop reminds us that we’ve only just begun. This is hard to imagine but knowing it’s true, how much easier could it be for us to move ahead with open hands and a soft heart?