Practice random beauty and senseless acts of love– anonymous
In March of 2020, when the spread of COVID-19 began resulting in lockdowns throughout New York State, I was clueless about the danger of pandemics. I had never before experienced a pandemic so, when the schools began shutting down, I thought that it was the equivalent of a snow day. Schools would shut down for a day and re-evaluate for the next day. Then I saw the announcements from school districts: SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED INDEFINITELY.
Indefinitely? My mind was unable to absorb that information. That sounded like forever. And it wasn’t just schools. It was churches and other places where people gathered. Still, I believed that this process of shutdown and quarantine would last for a few weeks and end for… Easter. Just in time to get back to choir and sing Easter hymns and anthems. I had no idea that we would be singing Easter hymns and anthems in Easter of 2022!
I think that many others were at the same level of cluelessness that I was. So here it is, early August of 2021. We are, at least temporarily, back to some normal sort of life. Who knows how long it will last, due to the nature of the COVID-19 virus to mutate? But still. We have been through an ordeal. We all have stories to tell and experiences to share. This has been a tragedy for all of us. We need to tell our stories. I remember the last time that I saw my mother in the nursing home. I kissed her and said, “Bye bye, Mom. I love you.” I expected to return the following week to rub her back and hold her hand and give her some cheese, which she adored, and to tell her how much I loved her. The following weeks vanished into the mists of time, churned into a storm by the raging pandemic.
For me, nature has been my safe place and my refuge. When I go into the forest or when I walk alongside a body of water, I feel peaceful and hopeful. Separated from family and friends, I needed that even more. And I know that I am not alone. That others needed to find their place of safety and refuge. That others have stories that they need to tell. That we all need to tell our stories, to create an image of how people responded to crisis, how they were able to go within and to find their strength, and how they were able to emerge, know that they have changed but that they are still resilient. During the process of change, I have seen some amazing acts of beauty and love. One was an outdoor church that was offered at a time when people couldn’t go into their own churches.
We had sermons from Pastor Jon of Cornerstone Church and music from Sarah and her guitar. It felt good to see people, even though I made sure to socially distance from them! Another act of beauty and love was a group of people who gathered online for evening prayer and, sometimes, music for months on end.
Resilience is a word that I heard just recently from Florence C. during her most recent Facebook Live presentations. Florence, who blogs about education and dyslexic students, said that one trait that helps students with learning disabilities succeed is resilience. They need to face adversity head on and find ways to overcome it.
During this pandemic, we have all had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and we’ve had to show resilience. We have to show the resilience of native plant species in adapting to the onslaught of aggressive invasive species. And so, we have stories that need to be told and that need to be collected because we are living historical events.
My hope now is to be part of the process of collecting the stories in the form of an oral history project. I’m not sure yet how to accomplish that. So the project, like me, is a work in progress.