My Blog

What Lives Under the Porch

Blogging is a difficult task for me right now. Any excuses I used over the years for not get around to  writing, whether my blog, a story for publication, or a book, have fallen by the wayside. I look upon toward day that is almost empty of duties. I take that back: there are the usual routine things one does plus a project or two. What is different is that the interruptions (meetings, gym class, doctor’s appointments, planned visits with friends, ordinary shopping) have all fallen away, leaving hours unaccounted for. At times in my life, I dreamed of days like this. It is what vacations look like except now we are in our homes instead of some exotic place in another location.

The difficult thing is that deep things are going on inside me but I struggle to find words to share these things. If I click “spirituality” in my list of blog categories I would guess over a thousand postings would come up. I would also guess that I felt pretty secure when I wrote them or I wouldn’t have posted them for public viewing. As deeply as I am feeling now, my security level is under the back porch somewhere with the awakening critters.

Some days in the past couple of weeks I have simply chosen to go light, reporting what I am doing as I stay in. It may have to remain that way for a while until I feel safe to come out of the darkness. With that in mind, I will share a couple of not-so-deep things I am noticing:

  • It seems I am communicating with others more than I did when I was mobile…and so is everyone else with me.
  • I am surprised by who are those I tend to miss now that we can’t actually see each other in the flesh.
  • I rather like simplicity. Planning meals and deciding what part of laundry I will do today isn’t nearly as heavy as duties I once had when I could roam about the world.
  • I can expect to get some things done in a timely manner, like making a gift for the birth of a new baby or a wedding.
  • I love that those things I most love can stretch out over more time such as my morning practice.
  • If I open my eyes and ears, I realize how exotic this little corner of the world is where I am vacationing right now.

Whenever I discover this thing, this understating, that is so illusive to me, I will most certainly share it. But for now, it still hides in the dark.

Hunkering Down in Minnesota

Minnesotans know we will be staying in place starting tonight at midnight. I went to town today to run errands. It took me two and a half hours and I have to say it was so fun. I went to Walmart to get material for a baby blanket and got some fresh and frozen vegetables while I was there. As I browsed the fabrics, there was another woman who honored the distance rule but that didn’t stop us from chatting about what we are up to sewing-wise. I love that kind of schmoozing. Two grandma’s making stuff. We talked about colors and what we do with our leftover fabric. I went to Aldie’s to get my favorite yogurt which I eat like ice cream these days. More chatting at the check out. Gas and check-out and the store owner was friendly as heck telling me how he washes his hands like he has never done before. I thanked him for his service.

It may seem strange but even though I have been staying in, except for today, I have felt busy. I get to the end of the day with three more things to  do on my list. Bernie likes to cook and making meals is a big part of his keeping busy. I have gained 5 pounds in the last two weeks. I am not joking and I need to do something about that. Our kids are keeping touch with us, more than the usually did before this fiasco.

I feel pretty safe with a governor who is a science teacher…not a bad deal for Minnesota at a time like this. Have to go…we have friends who have decided on a regular Friday “cocktail hour” on Zoom and that is coming up soon. I hope you and those with whom you are hunkering down have found creative things to do. We are just beginning. We need to watch out for one another.

Moving in Grace

I woke at three this morning. On my mind were the support groups that I belong to and how to maintain communication with folks I dearly love and will miss as this isolation may drag into weeks or even months. Over the past two weeks, friends have organized phone or Zoom meetings. My husband signed up for Zoom and we hope to use it for contacts with friends and family. I myself have started to get engaged in using my phone for group meetings. I was feeling the anxiety I often experience when it comes to managing media. I still struggle with instructions and fear doing the wrong thing. Yet, thinking about the need, I was putting a responsibility on myself as I lay in the darkness.

I got up, plugged in the coffee pot, and sat to read, always my first activity after crawling out of bed. This morning I started a book a friend loaned me, The Power of Grace by David Richo. Grace, for me, is God or my Higher Power working in my life in a way that either gives me an insight much needed in a particular moment.It can nudge me to move in a certain direction by opening or closing doors. Grace can  also come in the form of courage to act on an impulse, to take a risk. Synchronicity and coincidences are often forms of grace.

Drawing on classic hero stories, Richo says that there are three specific arrivals of grace: grace that comes at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a journey. I believe I experience beginning grace when I have inspirational ideas. Years ago when I was in ministry, ideas about how to design my programs came into my head almost in a steady stream. I identified this as creative thinking. Practically, I was able to carry out only a small number of these great ideas. The rest of the great ideas, I decided, were for others to act on and simply evaporate back into the universe. Richo would add to my thoughts that beginning inspiration includes the inspiration plus the move toward action or beginning steps.

The second arrival of grace is what sustains us in the journey, the ongoing support until the task is completed. I think of my marriage. Falling in love and planning and going through a wedding is one thing. Being a married person is quite another. There have been many difficult challenges over the years that at the time seemed insurmountable. Had it not been for this sustaining grace, I suspect my marriage would not have lasted.

The third arrival of grace comes at the end of a journey. Richo says that this grace is always a surprise, something more than the outcome intended when one first set out. Rosa Parks, for example, asserted her right to sit anywhere on the bus. The outcome was the opportunity to inspire others to initiate the civil rights movement. Dorothy of Oz sought to return to her home in Kansas but in the end she discovered her own inner power, finding out that home is within herself. I would add that with time, there are many outcomes to particular events as we draw the lessons from experiences years later. An example from my husband’s life: over the years, he struggled with executive leadership in various jobs he had. As a result, he had a deep sense of what leadership of others should look like. In retirement, he became involved in starting a Boys & Girls Club in our area. All of these experiences came flooding in for him as he seemed to know how to call people forth and encourage them to take responsibility.

Right now I am thinking about our situation dealing with corona-virus. While I leave it to national and state leaders to take care of the bigger issues, thinking about issues in my own circle of relations is what woke me at three this morning. I am flooded with ideas, as I was when I did church work, but for some of these, I lack the talent and energy to carry out. But where I am lacking in some areas, I am gifted in others. This insight saved me today. I am a writer. This blog is an important format for me to share my ideas and insights.

Just as others are finding ways to inspire and encourage through music and art, I hope I can do the same as a writer. None of us can do everything but all of us can do something and our natural talents are a clue to what is our calling. Grace can move us, and grace can sustain us. We have yet to know the grace yet to come.





This Long Sabbath

I am beginning to see some pretty funny posts on Facebook about the coronavirus situation. There is nothing like humor to diminish fear and lower anxiety.. I am also seeing some really positive, inspirational comments that help one see this situation like the Sabbath, an opportunity to spend time relaxing, reading, doing creative projects, and enjoying family.

One artistic friend is posting a story time each day for children stuck at home. I look forward to seeing some of our musical artists lifting us with song.

Our governor here in Minnesota spoke yesterday announcing the close of restaurants and bars and informing the citizens where to get help they need with monetary assistance and food. He made it clear why we are doing this. Our hospitals are not prepared for an onslaught of seriously ill people. By avoiding association with other citizens, we are slowing down the spread of the virus to give them extra time to gather what they need.

This is a time to support one another. Bernie and I have talked about ordering out meals occasionally to help keep our local restaurants working. I am making a list of people I want to be sure to check in with. I have a great collection of books that I am open to sharing with friends. For each of the performance cancellations this past week, I chose to let the organization or performers keep the money. I know there is more I can do…I will try to keep an open heart.

One more thing I can do is pray. This pandemic will be devastating for many that we won’t be able to personally help. So I plan to hold these persons that I don’t know in the light each day.

What are your thoughts and ideas?



A Short Post

With our adult kids here this weekend Bernie and I received all sorts of advice on staying home and safe. I looked out over my next couple of weeks thinking of all I hoped to do, seeing people I enjoy, wondering what to do. My daughter, Kate, gave this advice: “Act as though you are the one with the virus and behave as though you don’t want to give it to others.” What great advice!

As the hours passed, one event after another has been cancelled…as though my Higher Power took all decisions out of my hands. I have one event today that I have decided to go to unless it, too, is cancelled. I will practice the hygiene ideas I posted earlier.

One idea came up that I love. A friend suggested that if someone reaches out to hug you, fold your hands as though in prayer and bow slightly…a sign of peace and honor in other countries. I will practice that today.


A Post the Day After Yesterday’s Post

One day after writing a post on how unconcerned I am about the Coronovirus, I am starting to feel different. The governor of New York, talking about the first death there, said we need to put things in perspective. The 85 year old woman with compromised lungs would have probably died from the regular flu, he said. I hear his level-headed words, but I can’t deny that I am more anxious today. An event I’d planned to attend today was cancelled and my daughter and I together decided against shopping this afternoon to avoid the crowds at Cosco. Bernie and I can go during the week when crowds are low if we need to. I have another event tomorrow that I am starting to question. The numbers at this gathering usually low, 30 to 40, but it occurs in a fairly small space where distancing is difficult. Another event, later in the week, will involve more people but spans a longer day as people come and go and there is plenty of room for distancing.

My thoughts are shifting from how to avoid getting the virus to how to keep up social contacts so that I, and relatives and friends, keep from getting lonely. I have started a list of people I know who are likely to be shut in so that I can touch base with them. After my knee surgery a couple years back, I got depressed from the isolation.

My husband and I are already talking about how to fill our time at home. There are so many projects to attend to, but with so much time anticipated, for some reason nothing sounds interesting to me. Under other circumstances, I would be thrilled to have a free day. There isn’t much you can do to please this gal, it seems.

I saw on Facebook that the president declared the 15th (tomorrow) to be a National Day of Prayer. I think we already have one but we can always use another. I would suggest every day be a day of prayer, with the world in mind, not just our little American selves. That is something worthwhile to do when stuck at home. It benefits those being prayed for as well as the pray-ers. I like it. I will put it on my list.


Coronavirus…what I do

I realized today, I am not afraid of the virus…but I sure am obsessive. I am cleaning my house with disinfectants which I haven’t really done before. I like most germs and I don’t want to harm the friendly ones. But for this virus, I have gotten serious. At 75, I am among the more vulnerable and with my husband having COPD, there is added risk if her were to get sick. Here are some of the things I am doing;

Washing my hands more than I used to. Added to after going to the bathroom and before handling foods, I wash as I enter any building and again when I leave.

Not touching my face is a special challenge…I didn’t realize how often I did so until now. I realized that if I fold my hands in my lap or fold my arms, I don’t tend to do so.

I never touch a door nob with my bare hands. I have always done this in public bathrooms but now  do so for any doorknob. I will usually pull my sleeve down over my hand or I will wear a scarf and cover my hand while I grab the knob. Stylish.

In my house, I use sterile wipes to clean knobs and light switches before and after guests. Hand towels are changed more often and I am considering paper towels for guests.

I no longer shake hands but I am having a problem with hugs. A hug is so much more intimate and often a gesture for someone who needs support. I am going to have to trust God on this one.

I clean off my phone, my keyboard and TV remotes.

I do what others do when I cough or sneeze, use my arm or, if I am fast enough, a handkerchief.

I will for sure stay home if I feel ill.

Most of these have been recommended by the experts. As I said above, I am not afraid. I figure I either will or I won’t get the virus. If I do, I will or I won’t get seriously ill. If I get seriously ill, I either will or I won’t die. I don’t think the warnings are overblown. I think the experts need to be adamant because so much of the population is resistant to change. Those who don’t believe this is serious and won’t take precautions put others at risk.