The last few weeks have been weird, and even a little rough, but also beautiful and wonderful. If I think about it, that’s life in a nutshell. There are hard parts and beautiful parts and calm parts and there it is all together.
I laughed with a friend on the phone the other day, because the prescription of self-isolation in these days is right up my alley. In fact, if you read some of my blog posts, I write often about my love of staying home, reading, writing, going for a run, cooking a bit, listening to music, sitting on the patio. I even joked with a co-worker in mid-February, that I would love to just take a few weeks off to be at home, to write, to cook, to run, to practice yoga, to work on some dream projects. Be careful what you wish for, they say. Instead, I’m trying to enjoy this bit of time at home, while I figure out next steps and look for work and ponder the time that we are in.
If there was ever a time that I am grateful that my tv is not hooked up for reception, but instead only to my DVD player, this is the time. I read the news in the morning or turn on the radio news while I’m washing dishes, and then otherwise, I try to ignore it. I’m not living in oblivion, but learning to adjust my dosage to how much news I can process and take in. Instead, I’m focusing on grace. It’s amazing that what you focus on is what comes in abundance. I’ve been thinking a lot of about grace and just how it’s popping up all around me, just the way the spring blossoms do.
Here are some of those acts of grace.
One dear friend, knowing I didn’t have a car, called me and asked what I might need. I joked about having a full pantry and fridge, but not having any ingredients for cocktails. She braved the crowds in panic buying mode and waited in line at a busy store. When they seemed to be out of my favorites gin and tonic, she bought me a bottle of vodka and a bottle of sprite, her favorites. She met me in the parking lot of my apartments sheepishly grinning as she handed over the bottles. We laughed and I was grateful for her and our friendship. That is grace.
Another friend, from work, who was also laid off, offered me a ride so I could drop off paperwork at my employer. She asked me what else I needed, and turned the car to a small neighborhood grocery store where I picked up some produce and a few other essentials. The next day she texted and picked me up and we made a round at a big box store to pick up a few of the drug store items: shampoo, soap, deodorant. Again, I could have walked and taken the bus, but it was the effort and the kindness from her that made the errand all the better. She helped me to get what I needed so that I could stay home. That is grace.
My mother calls every morning. We had started this ritual a few weeks before the world turned upside down, and now I’m all the more grateful for it. We talk about our routines: laundry, my job search, her yard work. We talk about what we are making for lunch and how we are using up leftovers. We talk about the little and the big, the superficial and the deep. While I have lost a job, my mom, who has thrived with a busy schedule in retirement, has lost her social circle and routines: volunteering at the library, meeting with various groups in her community, exercising twice a week with women at church. She is strong and funny and full of grace and I am grateful for our now easy time together on the phone, knowing that eventually we will visit again in person. She is grace.
A newer friend gave me a book, a biography of a poet that he thought I might love. He knew I loved to read and would be facing some days at home. On his next visit, he brought a stack of books to lend me from his personal collection, because he remembered that I loved biographies. This is someone who knows me well, even though we are just getting to know each other. He knows that I would need a pile of books to get me through. That is grace.
Another friend has been keeping up with me over texts. We used to get together every couple of weeks or so for coffee, so she came up with the idea of just a phone call over coffee. It helps to connect and chat and keep up a friendship and a routine in what feels like upheaval. That is grace.
There have been acts of grace from strangers and acquaintances as well. My landlord promptly returned my call and answered questions about my lease and with some work from her IT person, made it easier for me to pay rent online, since they now have limited office hours. The person on the other end of the phone gracefully answered my somewhat redundant questions as I was figuring out a maze of bureaucracy. The stranger who stopped his car while I was walking and asked if I needed a ride gave me grace.
There is grace all around. We just have to look for it and receive it and offer it up to others in ourselves and in our actions. Grace is patience, kindness, helping others where we can with what we have.