the new ordinary

The ordinary is no longer ordinary.

My world seems to be split between before the pandemic and during the pandemic.
Before, we would run errands, visit friends and family, go to church, or go out to eat at our favorite restaurants. Now, we don’t leave the house unless it is for a walk through the neighborhood, and if we eat “out”, we have it delivered. Before, when we saw a neighbor on our stroll, we would stop to chat. We now cross the street and wave from far away. If I were out of flour or sugar, I would run to the store to get some, now I stay home and do without it.

I know I am one of the lucky ones. I have a safe place to live, my household can stay home, we have food every day, and I am with people that love me.

What I can’t stop thinking about is what is to come. It breaks my heart that for many of us, it is about to get worse. We will get sick.  We will know someone that died from this.  Some of us will hear our beloved family member has died knowing they have died without a loved one nearby.

We are staying home and changing how we live in hopes to save lives. So in all of this chaos, we must keep living. There are a few things that are getting me through this time; meditation, prayer, and the reminder that nothing is forever. I have been allowing myself to feel all the hard feelings; fear, sadness, and anger. They are good and I have honored them.  However,  I have also purposely sought out some of the harder to find emotions during this time; joy, hope, and contentment.

Mary Oliver’s poem has been something I have meditated on over the last few weeks. It is a beautiful reminder to allow all those feelings that might seem out of place during a pandemic- especially joy.

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
~ Mary Oliver

This prayer by Christine Valters Paintner is something I have used to guide my prayer time.

Praise Song for the Pandemic
Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,
Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,
Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,
Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,
Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance,
Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, all the medicine makers, praise be the journalists keeping us informed,
Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afar, and blessings on parents holding it together for them,
Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, praise for those who stay at home to protect them,
Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lockdown with abusers, the homeless and refugees,
Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color,
Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort,
Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown gnawing,
Blessed are those in grief, especially who mourn alone, blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night,
Praise for police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind,
Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distance, give thanks for laughter and kindness,
Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love,
Praise for the seas and rivers, forests and stones who teach us to endure,
Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood,
Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism,
Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness,
Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day, praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth, blessed is the sky clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again,
And when this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.

I don’t know what the new ordinary will be when this is all over. I know that the world will not be the same. So many have or will have lost loved ones.  We will be changed.  I pray I will be kinder and more patient. I pray I will be more careful with what we have and celebrate the ease of life more often. Until then, I will hang on to hope until we can hang onto each other once more.


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