Sunday 22nd March 2020 Mother’s day
I know it is Mother’s day but like St Patrick’s day earlier in the week it has lost its psychological standing as the virus is foremost in my mind. Thankfully I was a little more prepared than usual and sent off one my homemade cards to my mother in Northern Ireland earlier in the week. The post has continued so I am not sure why I think it would be slowed down because of the virus. I guess that is how the mind begins to think, “ Will this get there?”
Most of us now must be experiencing the difference between taking something for granted and appreciating everything.
I seem to have positioned myself in some race with the virus and now have difficulty switching off.
Interiorly I feel in a state that I have experienced previously just this time it feels like they are all rolled into one. Growing up in Northern Ireland ( I use that phrase so much) in the ’70s & ‘80s I frequently experienced this ‘state of emergency’. A car bomb would go off in my home town or a nearby town, someone would be shot in the local area, trains would be cancelled because of a bomb scare. An impromptu political rally would be held in opposition to something someone was doing against us, a riot would break out. The adrenalin would be on overdrive and the foremost question would be, “ What will happen next?”
It is also that state when you learn of the death of someone close. Things change as visitors come to the home of the deceased to pay their respects and in Northern Ireland, at least when I was growing up, people brought sandwiches, baked goods, tea bags, sugar. We would sit and eat and tell stories of the one that had passed. It was a time of grief but it was also a time of community.
I feel I am trying to keep on top of it from the point I awake to when I sleep. These daily stories represent that. My computer has become key alongside my mobile and the good old fashion landline. I want to keep going with life as far as possible and I want to know how others are. Suddenly I am aware of who is important to me.
This morning my local Quaker community decided to abandon meeting at the Meetinghouse and meet online.
At 10 30 am there are over 20 of us logged on as our Meeting for Worship begins. It is indeed unusual times as I see one by one members join via video on my phone. It is as we have each reached some virtual island.
I find it difficult not to be distracted. The idea is you sit in silence for an hour but with a mute button to hand I decide to make a cup of tea and then I again jump onto the computer. Listening and typing as four of our number speak out of the silence. The themes are around the difference of being in ‘meeting’ online to our normal physical meeting. The silence is somehow amplified as we sit attune to the noises in our homes, outside and what a microphone picks up.
There is too much happening in a day but the day still tells us it has ended so too will I end with some final words from Cilla Murphy living in China who posted the following in Facebook,
We are just finishing our 7th week of E-Learning, seven weeks of being mainly housebound and seven weeks of uncertainty. We are healthy, we are happy, and we are humbled.
We are allowed to move around freely now with a green QR code that we show when we get our temperature taken. You get your temperature taken everywhere, and it’s just become part of the routine. Most restaurants and shopping centres are now open, and life is coming back to our city.
As we watch the rest of the world begin their time inside; here are some of my reflections on the last seven weeks:
1. Accept that you have no control over the situation. Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two. Things change so fast. Don’t be angry and annoyed at the system. Anxiety goes down, and you make the best of the situation — whatever that might be for you. Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier.
2. Try not to listen to/read/watch too much media. It WILL drive you crazy. There is a thing as too much!
3. The sense of community I have felt during this time is incredible. I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on — who I wanted to call, message and connect with and found the quality of my relationships has improved.
4. Appreciate this enforced downtime. When do you ever have time like this? I will miss it when we go back to the fast-paced speed of the ‘real world’.
5. Time goes fast. I still haven’t picked up the ukelele I planned to learn, and there are box set TV shows I haven’t watched yet.
6. As a teacher, the relationships I have built with my students have only continued to grow. I have loved seeing how independent they are; filming themselves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem-solving, that even we as adults are still learning.
7. You learn to appreciate the little things; sunshine through the window, flowers blossoming and being able to enjoy a coffee in a cafe.
To those just beginning this journey, You will get through it. Listen to what you are told, follow the rules and look out for each other. There is light at the end of the tunnel.