1) Staycation Day # 236.
Our friend Jan Lachenmaier talks excitedly of her daily walks in Santa Barbara. “I call it being a tourist in my own hometown. I choose different parks, preserves, neighborhoods, beaches and do my best to see each place with new eyes, as if I were a visitor. I choose down in the heel streets too, and photograph quirky mailboxes, weathervanes, great tile art, and I meet fascinating and lonely people. I have shot about 12,000 photos.” We are getting on our walking shoes, hooking on our masks, seeing beauty, reporting discoveries, trading photos .
2) Thanksgiving in a new key.
“It is not the food, it is being around the table as one that matters,” we told each other a couple weeks ago. One family zoom we checked it out, and everyone agreed we will not gather this year, but share scenes of our thanksgiving dinners and plan a pie party in a park. Now the governor is in the loop and recommending our idea, kidding of course, and we will encourage our friends to “Small table Celebration.” And the family zoom will provide the conversation that you couldn’t hear at the other end of the long spread. We are thinking about the CDC physician who has said, “I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family because I want to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family next year.”
3) Safe Greetings.
The handshake may be gone for good,” Dr. Anthony Fauci says. We still have the nod, (although the smile is hidden) and the two hands pressed together say “Namaste (nay-may-stay-safe)” as greetings are changing in many cultures. The continental double cheek kiss, the hug of happy welcome, the back slap of familiarity are gone with St Paul’s “Holy Kiss.” But we have eyes that light up, and arms to beckon love, even the queen’s little hand wave works so well in the zoom window. There is no stopping love.
4) Ordination in the rain.
Our church ordained an Eco-pastor, Dr. Mark McReynolds, our leader in Creation Care ministries, in a service on an expanse of green grass with distanced chairs and closely connected hearts. Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference ministers Stanley Green and Antonia Onye spoke while Dr. Karen McReynolds laid hands on her husband in behalf of us all. Meeting out of doors, seeing each other face to face, knowing God present, hearing the depth of Mark’s call, ignoring the rain and loving the blessed moment, we are talking about it again and again.
5) Giving our malaise a new/old name.
Few of the labels being applied work well—COVID fatigue, cabin fever, election exhaustion—but a third century diagnosis seems to be point on. Acedia, “the noonday demon” that afflicted the ascetic monk in cave or cell is “virtually” identical to what we all report from our home-bound safety. Here’s an article that our circle of friends found helpful in taking a long view on the emotions of withdrawal and distancing: Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we’re all feeling right now.