Since it has been two weeks since I’ve been out in public, this morning’s adventure was filled with planning, excitement, and a little anxiety. I wore a purple surgical glove on my right hand to manipulate the gas pump nozzle and to place the items I bought at CVS in the paper bag I brought from home. (Please excuse that awkward sentence but the details are important.) My left hand was free to manage my credit card and car keys.
Gas was $2.19 per gallon. CVS is still employing people to stock the shelves and put up fancy displays (for cosmetics). They were out of Vitamin C; in fact the vitamin section was rather sparse. Except for the drop in the gas price, the reduced traffic, and my decision to wear a purple glove, everything looked the same. But oh how different it felt.
When this pandemic is over, I wonder what will have really changed. One thing for sure: my hand will be glove free.
If you notice that my posts have been rather sporadic, well that’s the way life is these days. Instead of blogging I’ve been spending my time as part of a church team to reach out to every friend and member, asking how they are doing, what help they might need, if they are connected on line, and if they have any prayer requests.
These phone conversations have deepened our friendships. We are in our homes, with time; time to call friends.; time to listen. Try it, you’ll like it.
Check out A Solitary Traveler on this blog. I’m reimaging my times in Florence by visiting my favorite spots. First stop: The Convent and Museum of San Marco.
Back here at home I admit that I am enjoying our self-imposed quarantine, although since we began a few days ago such social distancing has become standard.
I’ve been thinking about how time (and space) relates to solitude. The amount can vary; some people have to grab what they can on their way to work on a crowded subway. I had days and days of free time when I was at the cottage.
I have it again now at my home; I have day after day, night after night. My time is my own, and with that comes a new kind of responsibility. A little free time can be wasted, but now that I have so much, I feel accountable to the universe for how I use every moment of it. How I use it, yes, but more importantly, my intention about it. As I read, pray, knit, walk, work on a jigsaw puzzle, cook, tend the house, telephone and email friends, do I lift up peace and feel it in my heart?
Remember that song, “What a difference a Day makes”? New meaning in this age of Covid-19. Last week I was packing for my trip to Saratoga Springs to meet my daughter and grandson. I went, had a fabulous time, and came home. This week I have packed the refrigerator and freezer, and checked out a bunch of books from the library. Jim and I have decided to isolate ourselves as much as possible. We are prepared!!
I’m anticipating this to become a new version of my cottage by the sea days. A new kind of silence, solitude, and simplicity. New because this way we are being pressed/forced/compelled into living is neither temporary nor short-term. It is life changing in ways that we can’t begin to imagine. We may be experiencing a major paradigm shift, although we have no idea what that is. When Columbus set off no one knew that his journey would open up an entirely new way of thinking, of understanding and of living in the world.
It’s been eight days since I posted about my decision not to go to Italy. It made sense then, but for sure it is a no-brainer now. You know why, you follow the news.
The other day I saw a picture of Pope Francis blessing those gathered on St. Peter’s Square. I could have been one of them. Usually there are crowds gathered. Not on that Sunday. As I’ve often said, “I go to Italy to walk, visit churches and museums, and eat.” If I were there today, I’m pretty certain that my only choice would be walk.
But enough of that. I have no regrets, nor do I feel sorry for myself. Now is now, and I’m content to be home. I’m hunkering down a little, but plan to help at Open Table, the local food pantry, this afternoon. My home is my current cottage by the sea, a place where I can read, walk, write, puzzle, cook, meditate, and pray. A deep, easy, comforting way of being. With all that’s going on in the world, all the fluidity, uncertainty, and fear, it feels right to offer stillness, calm, and confidence as balance.
Ten years ago for my birthday a friend knit me a prayer shawl. Every morning I wrap it around my head and shoulders and in the evening I spread it from my feet to my neck;. A year later, in 2011 when my mother died, my best friend (since we were two) knit me shawl. It, too, was long and cozy. I use both of these shawls every day.
These two gifts, filled with warmth, love, and prayers, catapulted me a few years later into kitting prayer shawls. Now there are 20 recipients on my list, including the one I made much earlier for my friend Sarah when she was struggling with cancer. A few years ago her husband told me he puts it over his shoulders during his morning meditation.
Sometimes I start a shawl with a recipient in mind, but usually the person ‘appears’ as I knit. Usually it is for someone who is ill or has lost a loved one, or is having a personally hard time.
Occasionally people tell me stories about some specific comfort they have received from their shawl, but usually the bond we have remains silent, which feels very sacred to me. The mystery is holy, but I do wonder. I wonder who is using the shawl I knit for a friend who has since died and whose family I’ve lost contact with? I wonder who is wearing the shawl that got lost in the laundry at a nursing home? I wonder if any shawl has made it to college? I have every reason to believe that each shawl, whatever its journey might be, is still sending forth love and prayers.
A quick internet search will give you all the information you need. But here is what I do.
Use 3 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun Yarns; cast on 63 stitches on # 11 needles.
K3, P3; begin and end with K3.
Before starting the third skein, cut about 120 16” piece for the fringe that you will add when you finish up the skein.
My decision to cancel my trip to Italy hasn’t wavered. The best deal I have from the airline is to pay a $175.00 cancellation fee (instead of the usual $300). I’m still pondering whether to take it or wait to see if they cancel the flight entirely. .
Meanwhile, as I hold onto vacation mode, alternative plans are brewing. As a start, I took a day last week to visit the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA. A jewel of place, with its art work, ambience, and free parking. With very few visitors, I felt like I was walking around alone in a beautiful sanctuary.
Friday, my flight date, I’m meeting my daughter before she picks up her son for college spring break. I’m considering a three night retreat and/or a few nights in Maine. Stay tuned.
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