I couldn’t quite believe that it’s been 4 weeks since I last blogged. I’m sure it was last week, or actually maybe a few years ago. That’s the thing about time in lockdown isn’t it? So much confusion as to whether it’s going fast or slow or some swirly whirly thing inbetween. We were chatting to friends last night and one was talking about the need to journal and write down the mundane stuff, so that he had a sense of time moving and a record of what these weeks and months looked like. I liked that idea and so I’m back to recording our weeks. I think I’ll try and do this once a week from now on because summarising 4 weeks at once is going to be interesting…
Here are some of the threads though:
I’ve loved being back on my Spiritual Direction course every Tuesday night, I really like not having a 2 hour trip there and back. The potter to our shed outside is much more helpful than getting a train to London. I even love Zoom for the evening (I find it hard it most of the time but for this it’s brilliant). It helps that we all know each other and have hung out before. I feel much more vocal over zoom, something about all body language neutralised and so I don’t feel the worry over who should speak when and will anyone listen. We have lovely space to turn our screens off and mute ourselves so we can ponder well. It’s also helpful to have the chance to learn how to direct online, and in the practice time I love just seeing the person I’m listening to, rather than being aware of 4 others from my small group staring at us whilst we practice. It’s also a space beyond Brighton which expands my mind, soul and heart. I have to write an assignment soon on Celtic Spirituality and how it’s helping me with Spiritual Direction. I’m looking forward to working that out and soaking in the Celts for a bit.
Ups and downs and roundabouts (mainly caused by the intensity of life with my beautiful boys)
I presume we are all going through the full range of emotions each day, I seem to be. This week those have settled down a bit but the three weeks before this one were very strange in the sheer amount of twisty loops my emotions were undergoing. My back gave out on me so I couldn’t run anymore which probably didn’t help with the downs. I felt super guilty about the boys schooling, I’ve since chilled out but every now and again wonder what we are doing with our time.
This week I’ve started to mentally clock when they are making connections, playing well with each other and on their own, noting occasional writing and all the conversations we have as we bumble through our rhythms of the day. That helps me see the big picture and see that they are doing ok. I’m not going to make them do much and I need to do work as well. For this season it’s ok that they learn science from Bill Nye the Science Guy, zoology and animal care with Secrets from the Zoo and that they learn about really bad 90s TV from the Power Rangers.
Son1 is reading more than ever and its fun sharing in some of the books he’s read and chatting about them. Son2 is usually deep in some imaginary world and again it’s lovely to see him being who he is (and sometimes a cheetah). I love these boys so much and in the good moments it’s a wonder and a delight to see them processing the world and a privilege to hang out with them. (we have deeply grim moments too but this week has been a pretty good one in their world).
Self Care in the madness.
Our really bad week a couple of weeks ago taught me again that for this season my boys will pretty much mirror my emotions. If I’m stressed, anxious and fizzy it’s a sure bet that they will be, often even more than normal. If I’m managing my emotional state well then I become a container and not a sponge for their huge emotions and we all function much better.
I used to freak out about that but lately I’m coming to see it means I just need to care for myself lots. So this week I’ve been out for an hours walk at 7am. Everyday. It’s better than running because I don’t hurt my back or disappear into the world of music. Walking helps me process, helps me be still, helps me talk to my Maker. I listen to the Lectio365 app for 10 min and then keep walking, there is then time to rant at God, enjoy the world, see green and hear birds singing loud. It’s doing good stuff in my soul, helping me in how I view my world and giving me gentle endorphins rather than the rush and crash that running brings. (I really want to run again but for now this is better for me.) Most of the times that the boys are engaged in quiet time (audio books are my saviour) or TV time I work but sometimes I get to read a bit of a book or snooze. Exercise, hanging out with God and reading have been my top 3 self care strategies for the last few years and they are back in place in good ways. Phew. My lovely sister in law also enabled me to go on an online retreat every other Thursday night for women in ministry. It’s provides a quiet, led, space for an hour every fortnight, space with people away from my context, space to see what God might be up to.
Still ill. We are in a weird odd time of it seeming to intensify in the last few weeks. It’s not fun. But the above self care helps me not despair, it helps me be ok with him having to be in a dark room lots, it helps me explain it better to the boys, it helps me delight when he can come and play on the beach with us or cook incredible food and send me to bed every now and again. He can work in this state because work is calming and quiet. Phew. (oh and I love this man and have no idea how to pray about all this, so if you pray send a few God’s way for us eh…).
Friday we bake. Lemon drizzle cake, triple chocolate cookies, gingerbread men, fudge, sponge cake, fridge cake. We bake on Fridays for Saturday and Sunday treats (the weekend needs to feel different…). I like this rhythm.
All Hail Disney+ That is mostly all I have to say. Also I love Moana. It’s SUCH a good film and I would love to coherently put all my thoughts about it into a nice essay on Celtic Spirituality and the echos I find in Moana. Sadly I have no time, but it would be a good essay.
I WANT TO SEE MORE PEOPLE. I WANT TO SEE MY MUM AND DAD. I think we all have things in this area of life that we would like to scream out loud. BUT I have loved seeing the people who walk past our house each day and say hi, I’ve loved a few socially distant chats outside this week and I’ve really appreciated our lovely neighbours and road we live in. It’s brilliant to feel like more relationships are being built in our local area. I’m grateful for our friends who care for us, and the friends we chatted to last night who could notice how sick husbandface was, even through the weirdness of zoom which makes us all look ill, and who prayed with us.
I love our Church. I love working with Dave our Minister and Sam our Associate Minister, I like that if you change their names around I feel like I’m working with the 60s soul duo, Sam and Dave. (Also I’m totally changing my job title to ‘Pastoral Minister’ soon, although I like ‘Pastoral co-ordinator’ as it reminds me that it’s not my job to do all the pastoral stuff but to help co-ordinate it. A vital difference. Maybe it’s just my ego that wants ‘Minister’ to be part of my job title, maybe I’ll process that in tomorrows long walk…) Anyway, I digress. It’s SO hard to know how to help our community well in these times but I like that we do weekly devotionals, a live stream on Sunday morning, the chance to have some chaos on zoom afterwards and that our lovely small groups are still trying to encourage each other through the madness. I’m not a fan of preaching to a camera rather than actual people but I’m learning new skills. I can even sometimes look at myself on camera and hear my voice and not hate myself. I enjoyed leading my first contemplative service on zoom the other week and the chance to provide helpful space for people to engage with God (which seems to be one of my basic passions in life). It’s not easy trying to work and look after the boys and all the other stuff of life but we have a rhythm and it’s ok. I’m praying that when we eventually are able to meet up with more people from church that these odd times of having to try to cling together will have grown our relationships with each other rather than made us more distant.
We are still walking our woods, still seeing the change each week brings, still love seeing what flowers are coming and going. The garden has things growing in it. I adore being outside more than ever. Not much more to say other than this beautiful world we live in is helping keep us all sane.
Oof. I feel exhausted writing all that down, but it’s good to see and notice what’s going on in this odd pandemic world. I don’t want to miss the lessons of these times or the ways we coped in this strange world. I want to see how we found our way to new normals and record the progress made. So when I despair, probably tomorrow because Sunday’s seem to be particularly prone to being despair days, I can look back and see the flickers of hope.
How are you doing? What are you noticing at the moment? What is good in your life? Where do you ache? Let’s catch up.