Dear Mary Jo,
I’ve noticed you haven’t written in a while. I hope all is well for you and your family. The events of the last several months have been tough on all of us. You don’t know me, but you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing your perspective on family life and faith and I hope you continue to write. Maybe you’ve just switched formats and I’m not aware. Either way, God bless you and your family.
As this thoughtful reader’s email aptly points out, I haven’t written in a while. Many of you are thinking, yeah, and so?… Well, at least Donna misses me! First off, thank you for your sweet letter. To answer your welcome question, our skeletal staff of five here at “Late For Church,” (AKA the family) are faring remarkably well despite the roller coaster of events playing out across our country and world. Other than a nasty flu-like virus (COVID? possibly, but not definite) which hit my son, daughter, and me at the beginning of March, we are all fine. I can readily speak to their physical health, however not so knowledgeably on their emotional, mental health. How is it that I cannot nail down my kids’ and husband’s moods when we’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time together, living on top of each other for months? I can barely grasp my own thoughts and feelings, let alone the rest of my family.
There are a whole slew of reasons I haven’t written, starting with the absence of coherent thoughts for many many weeks. Maybe some of you can appreciate this. My mind has raced more than a spry cat chasing a moth with a death wish. (Moths are on my mind as Colorado is in the middle of a seven year cycle of Miller moth infestation. They’re everywhere! Which doesn’t help dispel desperate feelings that we’re experiencing Biblical plagues.) Backwards and forwards my thoughts dart, jumping quickly here, then changing course mid-attack. My random thoughts taunt my brain, “Missed me again, SUCKA!” Honestly, I don’t know precisely how I feel about anything. I have strong thoughts about our our collective health, race problems, politics, the Church, and on and on, then not thirty minutes later, I’m arguing vociferously against those assertions in my schizophrenic brain. I often find things funny, until they are really really sad. “Ha-ha-haaaa! That’s so funny, I’m crying. Sniff sniff, WAAAA!” From laughter to ugly cry in under three minutes. Also, I have been very sensitive to all the heightened rhetoric being written in my social media feeds, and even in texts from friends. Many speak and write in black and white terms, “This is the ONLY way we will get out of this mess.” And, “How can people do/ think/ be THIS way! Liberals/Conservatives are so (fill in the blank with nasty term of choice.) A lot of these posts and texts are sent by people I admire and respect. Alas, everywhere I look—essays that make it sound as if there’s one simple solution. Then all will be fine and dandy, if only people would just hop on board. But everyone has opposing ideas. I have consciously avoided adding to the dissenting chatter. Besides, I can offer no solution. I’m not certain of much right now.
In addition to the above reasons, though we are living in what is ominously been termed over and over as “unprecedented times,” my daily life has become oh so far from unprecedented. Life consists of my very familiar home, husband, and kids, laundry, lunch, dinner, and dishes. Rinse and repeat and that’s a week. Before the pandemic, I drew inspiration from wandering explorations through a list of stores, or walks in places packed with people, and in face-to-face interactions with extended family, close friends, neighbors, and strangers, meetings, coffee dates. Now everything is so… sanitized. I’m not speaking of hand sanitizer, although we do use a lot around here. I am so much more calculated about my interactions and trips out. I map out a plan and act in all efficiency to complete each specified task. I used to meander the aisles or linger places, chatting with those I encountered along the way. We’re all wearing masks. It’s like trying to have a heart to heart in the operating room. I feel tethered by circumstances, but also by the admittedly self-imposed walls of fear, and occasional despair. I’ve lost the gift of spontaneity which is such an inspiration killer.
Now in this season of COVID and cultural unrest, I find that my life is again meticulously planned and constrained by what I’m advised to do to protect my health and that of my loved ones. I feel constricted by how I am being told I am supposed to think about all that’s unraveling in the world. People impose their opinions about how I need to think and act as a good Christian and a good citizen. Again, no clear path as everyone seems to disagree what that looks like. I feel confused and stymied. Sadly, over the last months, I have lost sight of what inspires me—writing.
My break from writing hasn’t been all bad. I have tried, though not always succeeded, in being more present to my husband and kids. They are experiencing the same worldly tumult that can’t simply be shut out when we lock the doors at night. We’ve enjoyed slowing down together, though it was admittedly bumpy at first. I have also prayed more, A LOT more. Those are both really good things. But I’ve really missed tapping away on my keyboard or scratching excitedly in a fresh legal pad.
So, Donna that’s what’s been going on. Thank you for encouraging me to write. God willing, there will be more to come. I hope we can all encourage one another to choose to continue to do things that inspire us. It’s not our surroundings or circumstances, which frankly are kinda bleak right now, but how we respond that makes all the difference. What inspires you? Are you doing it? If not, why?