Livin’ La Vida COVID

Remember back in March when we were told schools and stores would be closed for two weeks and we thought, uh oh, hope that party 1st week of April doesn’t get cancelled!

Well, it’s July. The party never happened. Schools never opened. Stores are in limbo. For now. For a while. Maybe.

Most summer events are cancelled. Parties are frowned on. Large gatherings are a future hope. We are praying that students are even let inside the building this Fall.

Don’t look now but what we thought was a freak ‘blackout’ on our early Spring calendar has just turned into a way of life. For how long? We don’t know. It’s time to accept a new reality. With a new reality comes a new lifestyle.

In the Germantown Global Connection we gather, we serve, and we grow along spiritual lines. During COVID-19 or not.

Here’s the GGC version of living la vida COVID.

1. Let Home Life Flourish

What may have been a staging ground for your “real” life, namely, your house, has now just become your destination.

Now, your home IS your life.  How do you feel about that?

If that’s a problem, now is the time to address it.  This place may BE your life for months to come.

How do you need to re-configure your furniture to accommodate the new reality?

Does an art table now need to dominate the living room?

Does a bed need to be moved to a basement?

What will it really take for your kids not to go stir-crazy in these four walls, if they haven’t already?  Think broadly.

Should bed-times be moved up or back?  What actually works in this new era?

As for our family, we have moved my office downstairs, recruited our daughters to cook the evening meals, bought a firepit for the backyard, and introduced vegetables to our garden!

How might your home life flourish?

It’s not that spending all day on your iPhone is bad for you.  It’s just not life-giving: it takes; it doesn’t give.  What will you do that gives, that multiplies, that enriches, that unites, that feeds the soul?

  • If you’re an entrepreneur, re-design your home from the inside out.
  • If you’re a numbers person, take an inventory of your attic.
  • If you’re a natural organizer, figure out what movie every member of the household will enjoy.
  • If you’re a naturalist, populate the house anew with plants.

Don’t wait for life to resume again.  Make a new life.  Make life happen where you reside most of the day.  Re-discover what life is, right where you are.

2. Make Virtual Engagement Engaging

If a little box on a video screen is where much of your engagement with co-workers, family members, and friends will take place, make it ‘habitable.’

You can start by choosing a nice backdrop for yourself, one that reflects who you are.  Try to get one that’s good quality and make sure you wear appropriate attire to make it work.  A nice backdrop can either be live or otherwise.  If people will be staring at you for a while, ‘lift them up’ by what they see behind you.

Social media has been on a trajectory toward better photography, better videography, better graphics, etc.  If you’ve been following that trajectory, kudos to you: you’re prepared for the quarantine.  If not, time to play catch up.

How do you look?
What are you wearing?

What’s your disposition?  Are you generally smiling or do you sulk often?

Do you have good lighting?

You may not be an ‘image’ person.  I don’t think I am.  But a simple image is all others will have when they can’t actually meet you online.  Make it a good one!

This goes for technical ability as well.  There’s nothing more annoying than someone who can’t figure out basic operations – like how to chat in a zoom room, or share their screen, or just having the wi-fi capacity to stay on without freezing up.  We’re not all techies, but we can all get familiar with the fundamentals.  Then if we learn the more advanced stuff, we can be all that much more helpful!

3. Host Dinners One Family at a Time

It’s summertime.  If there’s anything we’ve learned about this elusive virus it’s that open air makes its job really difficult; indoors is where it gets the most traction.

So take advantage of the outdoors.  Hosting large gatherings is not safe now but hosting one family at a time makes sense, especially if you are aware of each others’ whereabouts in the last 2 weeks.  With masks, social distancing, and meals on the deck, Elsie and I have hosted several families with kids at our home in a safe, protected environment.  Obviously, if there are members of the family with compromised health, special arrangements may be needed.

The point is: there ARE safe ways to meet each other if we want to make the effort.  Who are the individuals, couples, or families in your life you’ve wanted more one-on-one time with and haven’t had the chance?  Now’s your chance!

4. Use Your Home as a Drop-off Point

The quarantine has cut us off from gathering places around town and given us a greater sense of connection to our immediate neighbors.  How can we capitalize on this?  I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten to know my next-door neighbor better in the last four months than in the last four years!

And as we encourage people to serve in their community, what better rallying point in your neighborhood than your own home?

My friend Bonnie has run a small collection program in her neighborhood for the last 3 months.  Periodically, she puts the call out: please bring these canned items to the bin outside my front door by such and such a time this Friday and I’ll take whatever is collected to the local food pantry to be shared with those who are food insecure in this pandemic.  It’s simple, it’s immediate, and her neighbors have loved the opportunity to make a difference.

It also has been a nice way to talk to her neighbors from a distance as she stands at the front door and they fill the bin.   After all, aren’t we looking for excuses to see people?

5. Visit Outdoor Destinations

Engaging nature has more physical, social, and spiritual benefits than one can list.  Being outdoors frees the mind, bonds the family, lifts the spirit, and inspires the soul.

Again, outdoor activity has been encouraged from the get-go in the coronavirus era by the experts as safe and, as long as social distance is kept, exposure-free.

And it’s cheap!  You may have missed that Disney cruise this Spring but for pennies (relatively speaking) you can camp out at the local state park!  Hiking, biking, picnicking, boating, fishing – take your pick: what does your family enjoy?  There may be historic sites, cool getaways, or even rivers or streams quite nearby that you never considered before.  Now’s the time to explore your environs and discover the riches just a mile or two away!

6. Become Anti-racist

Is it a coincidence that America’s most significant confrontation of racism for decades is occurring during a country-wide shutdown, right when we are looking for things to do, books to read, topics to discuss?  I don’t think so.  I believe it’s a divine appointment.

Think of all the vacationing you aren’t going to do this summer, all the parties you won’t be attending, all the summer camps, seminars, and conferences that will be cancelled and consider: how will we fill that time?  Why not by educating ourselves about issues that have clearly not been adequately addressed in the past?  If they had, trust me, they wouldn’t be issues today!  I’ve personally discovered that there’s a whole lot to read, to watch, and to learn about racism that I have missed and I need to catch up on.  What a golden opportunity!

7. Practice Grace

Here’s something I can guarantee: with different ideas of how bad this pandemic is, with different levels of tolerance for sequestration, with different levels of physical health, and with the status of our county’s and state’s restrictions changing by the week, there’s no doubt in my mind that you and I will have different notions of what is safe, what is acceptable, and what is appropriate behavior in the next several months: how many people is too many?  When do I wear and when do I not wear a mask?  Does this or that event need to be cancelled?  Will I do a fist-bump, elbow tip, or toe tap when I meet you???

Let’s just decide that we’re not going to agree on all this and be gracious toward each other.  I won’t judge your habits if you cut me some slack on mine, OK?  Or better yet, I won’t judge you at all.  I reserve the right to do or not do what feels safe to me, and I can maintain those boundaries without getting bent out of shape about what you do.

8. Trust God

Face it: there’s good reason to be afraid.  Very afraid.  Something like this has never happened before and we don’t know what this crazy virus is going to do.  And fear is an appropriate response.  Unless you trust that a Higher Power has our world in their hands and is working their purposes out.  That may take a lot of faith.  A whole lot.  But if we do, we can be much more constructive about how we respond.  We can help our community out by exuding peace and serenity to friends and neighbors rather than stress and anxiety.  And we can give ourselves the liberty to give generously and serve extravagantly.  Trust by all accounts is a much better option than fear.

There’s a proverb that says, ‘trust God with all your heart and don’t rely on your own insights.’  I like that.  Because so many of the insights I hear are based on fear and not helpful.  Let’s listen to the insights based on an understanding that we will come out of this pandemic as a society more sober, more mature, and more ready to heal the wounds of this nation.

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