COVID-19 has revealed some things about myself. There are times I get this familiar panic feeling rising up in me—the same kind of feeling I’d get before my children were born. I was excited about a new baby coming, but also terrified that something might go wrong during the birthing process. The only words I can think to describe this feeling are that it’s a “terrified while looking forward to the future” feeling.
When the stay-at-home order began, I was sure that with the extra uninterrupted time on my hands I’d read books, write stories, journal my thoughts and feelings about this time I was living through. I’d also planned to clean messy closets, dig deep into my inner world of thoughts and feelings, and come out of this incubation period feeling more enlightened and at peace with myself. That is not happening. I’ve tried reading. Often my brain feels tired and conflicted, like it’s in a spin cycle of confusion and fatigue, mixed with sadness, mixed with longings I seem to have no name for, mixed with an intense feeling that I want to escape what is happening around me. Leave. Vamoose. I’m out of here! But of course I have nowhere to go, so I am stuck with myself, awaiting the fate of this “birthing process” I find myself in.
The other night as I lay awake, I saw myself floating above the chaos, tethered to earth and yet feeling above and free of the earth’s chaos. It felt peaceful.
Lately, I’ve experienced a few episodes of gut-clenching fear—that out-of-control, panicked, run-for-your-life fear. Maybe it is my fear of what the future holds after COVID-19. I’m not sure. Sometimes I talk to the Gut Clencher. I scold it for scaring me and for trying to fool me into overreacting. Or I offer it a glass of wine to get it to loosen its grip on me. Or I distract it by staying busy and useful to others. My tactics usually work, but only temporarily. Fear doesn’t give way easily and it has a way of circling back—usually with new tactics to capture my attention. I know that fear is not of God. He tells us to “fear not” but He also understands our fear, because He knows we are dust, and we dusty humans need to be reminded often that He is God (and in control) and that we are humans (not in control).
As COVID-19 has abruptly and yet insidiously birthed itself into my life, I feel some of the same exhaustion I felt after bringing home each of our newborn babies. In my new mom exhaustion, I’d wonder if our lives would ever return to normal, as each new baby needed so much of my time and energy. I also remember feeling the need to tune in to hear each baby’s cries. These days I find myself with my ear pressed to the ground, listening: When will COVID-19 be gone? Will it return? What does our world look like moving forward after COVID-19? What is a healthy response on my part in all of this for my family, myself, my community, my world? I find that I have many questions and few answers.
How I long to ascend into His Peace, trusting that He will help me transcend the chaos that is happening all around me!
I left the world today
It wasn’t spur-of-the moment
My bags had been packed for some time
I carried only the essentials – traveling light as air
The trappings, the news, the hate had become
Too heavy, too cumbersome
I longed to leave
I walked out the door and pulled it shut behind me
No sneaking out
It was a matter-of-fact shutting
I stepped into crisp blue air
And took hold of my lifeline and gave it a tug
Up, up, up
Into an atmosphere of pure buoyant air,
Looking down I could see
Cars, trains, planes, people
Traveling every which way
Like ants traveling to and from their ant hills
With grains of sand to build their unseen, underground castles
Higher and higher I ascended
Taking in the breath-taking beauty below me
Brilliant blue oceans and fingered lakes
Muted green forests and cascading mountains
Brown desert sand and sculpted plains
White, snow-capped mountains
Like a helium-filled balloon freed at a
child’s birthday party, I floated upward
Rising, rising, rising–
A gentle tug told me I’d reached the end of my tether
I’d have to weigh and decide whether to
Release myself into the untethered unknown,
Or return to what lies below.
I felt peaceful, tranquil, free of anguish and pain,
but I longed for things that can only be
experienced in the midst of the chaos
of life on our small, blue, marble planet
Down, down, down,
my feet touched the ground
I waved goodbye, and opened the door
into the rest of my life
Realizing that out of the anguish of birth
Comes new life and unspeakable joys.
“Welcome home,” I said to myself.
Though she didn’t talk until she was three, Barbara is a lover of words both spoken and written. A rather late bloomer in both learning to speak and in learning to trust her inner voice and in finally feeling comfortable enough to write down her stories, she feels blessed to be making the journey towards healing and wholeness. She’s looking forward to continuing her journey of transferring her thoughts into written form and sharing them with others. She’s thankful to be part of the Red Tent community.
Oh, Barbara. This is beautiful. The longing for more and the desire to escape the chaos is something many of us feel. Your words name what is deep within me. Thank you.
Hi Jill – Thank you for your response to my piece. Hard times reveal hard things about ourselves, I think. Be well.
Your fear is welcome.