Op/Ed

Ways of Seeing: Getting through and moving on

I have been collecting weird coronavirus benefits. They provided much-needed laughs: 
•  It’s much easier to rob banks because there are so many potential suspects wearing masks. 
•  Bad breath doesn’t matter anymore. 
•  Heard on WDEV Trading Post: “My neighbor who is always coming over and borrowing tools and not bringing them back doesn’t come over now.”
•  My wife stopped telling me to get a haircut. 
•  You can mute the sermon at church if it’s hitting a little too close for comfort. (Also co-workers who go on and on during videoconferences.) 
•  I’m taking so few showers that my henna tattoo is lasting forever.
•  No tax audits. 
•  No one knows you fell asleep during church. 
•  With my kids at home, someone’s always petting the cat — he’s happier than he’s ever been.
•  I can make a left turn anywhere in town without waiting. 
•  I can drive from the food co-op to Hannaford in less than five minutes. The stoplights are actually timed. Who knew.
•  My house is cleaner because my kids/mother/father is/are living with us now, so people make an effort to pick up after themselves and share the chores. 
•  I don’t have to clean the house because no one comes over.
•  I’m getting more fresh air because I have to wait outside the store until it’s my turn to go in.
 • I’m getting more money on unemployment than I was earning. 
•  I’ve learned how to cut my family’s hair. I really enjoy it. I may want to do this as a career.
I’ve heard of one weird COVID anti-benefit: I have no excuse to say no to being on a committee since they know I’m not working. Not only that, but the church where I used to live also wants me back on its committees because they meet through Zoom now.
Friends, when this is over, let’s continue parts of it. Let’s continue checking up on each other. Let’s continue picking things up for other people when we go to the store. Let’s continue telling people we love them. Let’s continue showing our love in practical ways.
Let’s continue emailing each other inspirational or funny poetry and photographs. Can I sew or mend something for you? Shall we take a walk together each week? Do neighbors want to gather more often to celebrate that we are alive and well?
Can we make sidewalk drawings to inspire or amuse? Can we decorate our home and workplaces with messages of thanks? Can we give a surprise bouquet to someone who lives alone?
Can we continue to give free access online to great works of art and music and theater? Can mini-performances continue?
Can we continue to broadcast our worship services so people who are unable to come, or live far away, can join us? Do we need to make a “Worship on Wheels” program for the housebound?
What can we add to our response for when the next pandemic comes? Let’s begin to get used to the idea now, so we don’t have as much trauma next time around. What did you, or do you, miss the most? Let’s brainstorm together to meet more needs next time. We can hope that once this is over, that’s the end of it, but odds are that it will happen again.
Shall we give our older computers and tablets to people who have none, and teach them now how to use them for video calls? Shall we videotape live classroom lessons when they resume and keep them on hand for future home schooling use?
Shall we do twenty-second video interviews with hundreds of people of all ages in our community telling their best way to get through these kinds of times? It will be a fascinating historical documentary and wonderfully helpful and reassuring.
We are newly close to each other despite being physically distant. Can we hang onto this? Can we see all nations as united in common humanity? Can we picture people in “enemy” countries singing together from their homes each night during stay-home orders? Can we look at their coronavirus humor on YouTube and see that it’s just like ours? Can we pray together with them through Zoom or YouTube?
Shall we button ourselves back into our individual or family worlds? Instead, can we keep our now visceral awareness that everyone is connected and important?
After this is over, you may want to wipe it out of your mind completely and go right back to how your life was before. Instead, among the hardships and catastrophes and deaths, can we notice that there were real blessings, too? We must, in order to survive such times.
Was there any way that life was better for you or for someone you love during the lockdown? Can we claim the blessings and embrace them and continue them?
Barbara “Shulamith” Clearbridge has worked as a medical intuitive and energy work practitioner for over 25 years. She is now expanding her practice to include interfaith spiritual direction. She is the author of “Natural First Aid & Simple Health Solutions,” “Heal With Your Hands,” “Finding God By Learning How To Pray,” soon to be reprinted as “Prayers & Spiritual Practices from Many Traditions,” and “Recovery: Women’s Words About Healing After Trauma.” Her website is: FeelingMuchBetter.org. She lives in Middlebury.

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