Sitting in the Mist

There are moments when life seems so normal. Currently I am sitting at my desk and a squirrel sits perched on a bare limb outside my window, her own office of sorts. The tips off the limb sport the smallest of red orange buds, a promise of new life and renewal to come with the warming of spring. So much like a normal mid-March morning.
But then I remember that my work will not be interrupted by students who want to come and sit. I won’t be taking a break to go read about cats in hats or purple crayons or civil rights heroines to smaller children and they won’t look up at me with wonder and big smiles. I won’t hear “Chapel Mary!” from those same little voices today, nor will I hear “Mama D” or “Rev” shouted at me across the quad from our bigger kids.
In the normal moments my mind is acutely clear, ready to charge ahead with whatever task falls next in the line of to-dos. But in the other moments, the mist falls and my mind can’t see through it – can’t move through it. All function shuts down for a moment, maybe longer. When the mist falls, I know what to expect: hurting heart, quickening of breath, a deep sigh maybe, a touch of sorrow and loneliness. I yearn for one of my usual visitors to sink down into my easy chair to tell me about her class or whatever excuse he gave to his teacher to leave and stop by my little corner of the building.
Some of these moments I allow myself to tumble into the fog and very real unreality of our current status. I grant myself some time to be sorrowful; to think about those much less privileged than myself for whom this break in work will be disastrous or for whom this universal pause brings sickness and possibly death. In those moments, I hold onto the psalms of lament gifted me by our tradition, giving words to my darker emotions and granting permission to cry out, frustrated, lonely, uncertain.
Other times I give my heart access to my optimism and hope and Julian of Norwich rings out like a clanging gong, calling my soul to hope and joy, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” She never promised they would be well immediately or even in the near future. She merely held tight to the promise that our worst days are never our last days. That’s paraphrasing another author whose name escapes me at the moment but who left a permanent seed of optimism and promise in my heart. Julian knew that even death wasn’t the last thing because of the promise of our faith, thus regardless of the pain of the present, the future will forever be well, be well, in all manner of things be well.
Still yet, other times my survival instinct ramps up and actively fights the mist until my mind clears. In those moments I am finely sharpened, honed by the blade of pro-activity and I make lists, call or email friends, follow up on plans, clean a basement, paint a wall, hang all manner of art and pictures, or brainstorm until my mind is a waste of branches and tree trunks, unnecessary ideas blown down by the raging winds of new epiphanies and exciting prospects.
Friends, I see you too through the mist. I know it descends on you all as well. For some it is filled with fear, for others pure sorrow, for others questions born of uncertainty and a lack of control. We are separate but still sitting together.
Give your mind to the mist in whatever form you need in this time. There is no “right” response, nor is there a “wrong.” There is only you and how you feel, making your reaction purely yours and proper for you and as it should be. If you fear tumbling too deeply into the fog, I’m here.
Truthfully, the mist doesn’t bother me. It is simply a part of our “now,” something to be learned from, to manage, to discover, and, at times, to push away.
Sending you all my deepest love and tightest hugs. I intend to write more in this time of slowing down, if nothing else then to feel your presence with me as I move my fingers around the keyboard, imagining you sitting in your chairs, lounging on your sofas, walking your now usual route, as you read it.

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