When I was a little girl, if I wanted to talk to my dad alone.. I knew I could usually find him in his garage. His garage was well used, so it was a little dirty .. and a little oily… and usually had someone’s car parked in it.
I can still smell it. Like old motor oil combined with the damp… and the smell of the trees blowing in from the open door.
I would walk right in… and sit on the floor of my Dad’s garage.
And I was never more content.
Why was I on the floor?
Because my dad was usually under the car… fixing it… and it was easier to talk to him from down there on the floor.
And talk I did .. from what I remember. But I also remember sitting in silence while he worked.
While I sat there, my dad occasionally asked me to hand him a tool. Sometimes I guessed the tool correctly.. but occasionally he would hold the tool I handed him for a moment… and then ask me for the tool he needed again. That time he would describe it to me.
And I’d try again.
Sometimes more than once.
For me.. that memory is what my prayer space feels like.
A garage? …you ask…
Why not the image of a church.. or a sunny meadow…? Or a flower garden?
While sitting on my dad’s floor… I felt loved, and safe… and heard.
The same way I feel when I pray.
This last year has been a difficult one for me.
So much anger in this world… so much injustice… so much sadness…
… and some of my favorite people getting sick…
I have always told people that I won’t sit and wait for a storm to pass… I’ll find a way to dance in the rain…
… but this last year…?
This year I have found myself sitting on the floor of my Father’s garage..
…talking to God while He works on the world.
I’ve found myself bringing my prayers to Him.. like a child. Bringing my disappointments and sadness …
… sometimes I just sit in silence… letting His love seep into me…
.. and occasionally God asks me to help Him..
.. sometimes I do a good job of guessing what is needed.. but sometimes I need to listen a second .. or even third time before I am success at using my gifts for what He intended.
Especially this year… it feels like it is so hard to use the gifts I have been given.
.. all of gifts… left in that tool box ..
But as I sit in the quiet.. on the floor with my Father?
My dad used to tell me, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.. but you’ll be surprised what you can live through.”
I held onto that thought when I was lying in a hospital .. 5 weeks ago… concentrating on each controlled deep breath…
Controlled… because the instinct to panic and gasp for more air was strong.. but wouldn’t help …
Deep breaths … because keeping my lungs as open as possible would be the difference between a ventilator.. or keep the oxygen “nose leash”…
I will remember that moment for a long time…
… that moment …
… not scared… but respecting the gravity of the illness that I had…
… not panicking… but focusing on each breath in its entirety… like there was nothing else in the world…
… not wanting to leave my kids without a mom yet… but knowing that it was a possibility…
… and trusting… knowing that God had my situation in His hands… in His plans …
… so I thought about that saying my dad would say … I’d be surprised what I could live through… as I felt the ability to breath on my own get smaller and smaller…
That moment was my covid moment.. filled with that Covid feeling … Being so weak in body.. and fading.. but so filled with faith in God’s plan.. and filled with love from my Earthly family… that I took one more deep breath … and then another…
…. and I was able to keep breathing with JUST the help of that oxygen “nose leash”….
Now.. I know you all see me joke about the oxygen “nose leash” as my son affectionately named it.. that’s because laughter is the best medicine…
… I won’t lie.. sometimes that “nose leash” is the source of so much frustration.. The puppies get tangled up in it… it gets caught under something … and it pulls my face back.. or at the very least makes me stop in my tracks and fix the “trap”…
… not to mention that I’m limited to 50 feet from my machine… unless I hook up a tank that I have to pull or carry…
… but I’m still so thankful for the “nose leash” .. because the alternative? A ventilator… in the hospital wasn’t as appealing…
… or worse yet .. now that I’m home… if I didn’t have the oxygen.. I wouldn’t be able to walk to the kitchen to get my own coffee … or do any simple activity without getting short of breath.
This Covid thing isn’t limited to breathing though…
It was obvious things.. like coughing up red “junk”… the swollen neck… abdominal swelling .. leg swelling… the horrible headaches… the heart pounding… the massive bloody noses.. the face swelling….
… but I learned later.. there are the “not so obvious” Covid things too… the short term memory issues… the loss of being able to sign my name… learning to walk without a walker again… keeping my blood sugar above 70 … learning how to be less active … how to ask others to do things for me…
… you’d be surprised what you can live through…
Slowly, my family is losing that Covid feeling…
… the worry that mom will go back to the hospital… my son worried to let me out of his sight… my daughter exhausted from being “the mom” to us all… everyone too exhausted to do much beyond eating and surviving…
But I never want to lose all of the Covid feeling… I hope I keep the joy in the little things…
… the love I feel when I remember the things my parents taught me…
… the happiness I get from little notes tucked into much needed food delivered to the hospital…
… the way my cup overflows with the generosity of friends and their front porch drop offs…
… the joy of being able to go home… even with “oxygen nose leashes”…
… being content surrounded by my little family…
… the feel of grass beneath my feet
… the accomplishment of walking to the chicken coop with a portable oxygen leash
… wearing jeans for the first time in a month…
Being able to see the baby steps of healing as blessings during the storm… means the storm didn’t win…
… so for me?
I don’t want to lose all of that Covid feeling…
.. and I will no longer be surprised what I can live through.
This theatre season, my cast worked through enormous obstacles to perform Les Miserables.
And then .. on opening night?
Covid-19 starting shutting down all assembling of groups.
So 10 weeks of hard work.. and the kids were only allowed to perform for their families. The cast was heartbroken… but they wiped their tears… and performed an awe-inspiring opening night.
I could NOT have been more proud.
This experience is a little surreal…
Surreal in the sense that everything was so different from where we were 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago, I was reminding the kids to hang up their costumes and to clean up their own messes.. and to turn in tee shirt money.
And today… I am JUST praying that each of my cast members stays safe and healthy..
But it is also surreal for me in the sense… that ALL of my life I have been studying Plagues and epidemics .. and pandemics. The Black Death.. the Spanish flu (that started in The US)… siege sicknesses, the viruses that wiped out the Natives, etc..
Not so much for the illnesses or the deaths… because death and suffering saddens me…
…but how those illnesses.. and the fear… and the chaos affected the people. And how those effects changed the course of history.
How poor people could suddenly own land…
…How our children still sing “Ring around the rosies”.. to ward off evil spirits…
And here we are… smack in the middle of what WILL BECOME history. Someday, kids will be studying about the Covid-19 pandemic of 2019.. and wonder how the “population coped with the terror” and the isolation..
I wonder if the history books will tell how we had a shortage of toilet paper… and no shortage of the conspiracy theories?
Or will the future history books say that the “population” learned from the history books of the past? Will the history books state how we all chose to obey isolation and quarantined ourselves at home?
Will the history books say how we banded together to give each other hope for a future?
Because we WILL have a future.
Even the worst plagues… the survivors dusted off their hats.. picked up the pieces of their lives.. and made a future for themselves.
And little by little?
We learned from them. From the survivors. We learned to wash our hands. We learned to quarantine ourselves if we have been exposed. We learned not to panic.. and not to take the virus to the next town in our panic.
We HAVE so much knowledge at our fingertips THANKS to the records and observations kept of those pandemics in history.
Because we have learned from our history? We find ourselves in quarantine BEFORE it gets too bad. We find ourselves bored and creating funny memes about isolation “cabin fever”.. while we wait for the virus to run it’s course.
But … we will ALSO find ourselves with a better future.
A future that MAY hold graduations later in the summer. A future with delayed vacations.. delayed celebrations ..
A future with strange new school routines.
A future that has changed us all in small ways…
For me? I’m praying that my future has our cast performing Les Miserables when the crisis is over.
And I’m praying that when we hear Marius sing about empty chairs and empty tables… that there are no empty chairs in our community..
I’m praying there are no empty chairs in our cast…
And I’m definitely praying that we did our part enough.. that I won’t have ANY empty chairs in my family.
But even if we never hear our cast sing a song rejoicing in “one day more”… ?
I’m happy that our nation and our schools gave them their best chance at being able to sing another day.
I love to walk through my yard after a snow storm blows through. I know that you’ll agree that it’s always the prettiest when the snow is fresh and the sun shining bright. But I am not always looking up to see the beauty.
Where else would I look (you ask)??
I am usually looking down.
You see.. while we are all bundled up inside our houses? All warm and safe? The world outside isn’t always as quiet as we think.
The first time I took water and food to my chickens.. right after a snow storm?? I stopped in surprise. All around me were paw prints and tracks through the snow. Trails going in all directions. I saw squirrel tracks… and rabbit… deer trails by the dozens.. and coyote tracks on more than a few occasions.
Why would I find it cool to find coyote tracks in my backyard??
Well? Honestly they didn’t bother anything.. so why not?
The house that my husband works hard to provide for us.. and the protection that God gives us .. keeps us safe at night. So sometimes I find it interesting to see what dangers may have pass us by, in the night.
I sometimes think of my Faith as a type of house.
We sit inside of houses of Faith.. all safe and warm.. and blissfully unaware of the dangers that God directs around us. And unless we go outside our houses? Well unless we go out in our backyards.. we wouldn’t even know what dangers passed us right on by.
So why doesn’t God show us the dangers He protects us from? It certainly would scare more people into having Faith. But God says He wants us to come to Him willingly and freely. So He keeps those tracks hidden.
Now you are probably thinking.. What about the bad things that happen to those with Faith? Does that mean their Faith failed them?
I don’t have the answers to that.
I have had my share of troubles in this world. Bad experiences, medical emergencies, scares… I could go on.. and on… So does that mean that I lacked Faith and God kept His protection to Himself?
I felt protection. I was overwhelmed.. but felt protected.
The Bible promises us that “Everything will Be Beautiful in its time.” But until that time? Until the moment that I realize why bad things happen to the Faithful?
Until then, I will count the number of trails that go away from my house.. and be thankful for them.
One of my nephews is 3 years old.. Bright blue eyes, amazing smile.. Generous heart and so funny. And he has a tumor behind his right eye. It’s not cancerous. So, although it is scary for us (his family), it isn’t really life threatening. But he still has to endure chemotherapy treatments for 18 months. Treatments that could save his optic nerve from further damage.
6 months into chemotherapy treatments..? I have learned a great deal from watching this boy and his parents. You see this boy..? This little warrior? He has to do a great many things that are hard.. Hard and painful.. And sometimes just not fun. But he does them. He gets cranky, tired and restless … But he does them…
This little warrior accepts what he has to do .. And just does it..
Because his daddy and mommy tell him that this is the way to keep his eyesight.. And although it is hard (for all of them) they have to do it because they love him.
And through eye exams, MRI’s, chemo port installation, long doctor visits, hospitalizations, painful port accesses… I have seen tears in their eyes more than once. But they keep on moving forward .. Having faith that everything will be beautiful in its time.
Why does this boy just accept all this as necessary?
Because his parents told him that this is the way it has to be. That in the end? In the end being able to see .. will be beautiful.
Does that mean he never asks “why?”
Does that mean he never cries?
Does that mean he never states he doesn’t want to go for more tests?
But he still does.
Jesus tells us that he wants us to have faith like a child.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17 NIV)
I didn’t understand that verse clearly until this year. I didn’t understand it until I watched the faith this child .. This little warrior ..has in his parents.
You see my nephew trusts that his parents know what is best for him. He trusts that this is the best plan because they told him it was. And no matter how much he doesn’t enjoy it, he trusts that his parents know that everything will be perfect in the end.
Is my faith like this child?
Ha.. I wish it was.. I want it to be..
But sometimes my heart cries out “why Father?” Why does my son have to struggle so? Why does my nephew have to suffer these treatments? Why do things happen that make me sad? Why?
Then? Then I always pray that God will take my doubts from me.. Take them so that I can just move forward and know that everything will be good in the end.. So that I can trust that my Heavenly Father knows this is the only way. That my Father knows everything will be Beautiful in the end.
Only when those doubts are replaced by total trust.. Only then will I have faith like a child.
THAT is what I have learned from watching my little warrior.
Everything sounds better with the echo of a still small voice.