Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Corvid on Covid

I know I told you I was finished with the Crow. But apparently she’s not finished with me. She started nudging me. “Hey, did you hear that? They’re talking about me: ‘Corvid this, corvid that’.” I replied, “You need hearing aids old crow. They’re saying Covid, not corvid. Go away.”

But she hung around. I tried to ignore her, but she won’t shut up when she has something on her birdbrain. She pokes at me till I listen.

The other day the Resident Sweetie and I drove out to the ocean to watch the wind and the waves. And there she was again, sitting down beside the car, her beady eyes fixed on me. Some people would say, don’t take it personally, the crow is begging for food. But I rolled down the window and we had a little chat. She won. Of course.

So what do I say in this blog? You do not need yet another analysis of what we are all going through. The internet has it covered. I don’t have any advice. I’m going through the same ups and downs that you all are. All I have is my story of the pandemic and how I’m handling it, so that’s what I’ll share. Maybe if I tell it to you, the crow will quiet down. And maybe something good will come from that.

When we realized how serious and close to home this pandemic was, and how vulnerable we, being “elderly” were, we took the STAY HOME message seriously. Since there was wine in the cabinet and books on the shelf, I took a little vacation with my wine and my books. Nice! For a little while, at least.

Two weeks in, my Calvinist work ethic began chewing me out. You have a lot of time now, take advantage of it. Get productive, eh? (This Calvinist work ethic speaks Canadian English with a Dutch accent.) Do something every day, it told me. So I made a (mental) to-do list and decided I would keep a visual record of what I did every day, beginning April 1. I would create a little quilted picture, each picture a diary entry of the days in April. (Surely this thing would be over by then, wouldn't it?)

Day 1: April 1. I have a bag of weeks-old kumquats in the refrigerator. When I saw them in the store pre-covid, I remembered how good kumquat marmalade tasted when we visited Arizona two years ago. So I made kumquat marmalade.

April 1: the rhubarb is coming up!

April 2: I created a little quilt for April 1 featuring a jar of Kumquat marmalade. It was a start: I would be working backwards, each day depicting what I had done the day before. I liked it. It felt good.

April 3: I created a little quilt square of me creating a little quilt square. But what about tomorrow? Me creating a quilt square of me creating another quilt square? Hmmm.

Fortunately I was listening to a podcast featuring a man who had decided to write an essay every day for a year about the little things he delights in – dandelions poking out of the concrete, strangers waving at you, etc. A light bulb went on, actually lots and lots of them. Yes! My daily diary of productivity was renamed and became The Diary of Daily Delights. Here's what my diary wall looks like right now.

And these are a few close-ups. I celebrate the simple things: a bird eating from Al's hand; the rhubarb coming up in the garden; sipping a cup of tea on the beach, and finally making a shopping trip (very quick, of course.)

 What a delight it has been for me to create a diary of daily delights! One little 3 x4 inch quilted picture doesn’t take long to make, but it serves to put me into a positive mindset, remembering the good things from the day before. While I’m working on it, it serves as a prayer guide and quiet space for meditation. And the project has primed the pump to other creations – an appliqued jug of tulips, some writing on the family history, and ideas for more.

To tell the truth, the studio has become my happy place. This is where I belong right now. It’s how I will get through the pandemic ... not by crossing jobs off my to do list, but by being who I am, creating, listening, and being open to direction.

What I also begin to understand is that there is a difference between enduring the pandemic, and abiding in it. “Our spirituality is lived inside out, beginning with abiding. By abiding, we cultivate the life that arises from within,” writes Bob Holmes, the Contemplative Monk. Abiding is like finding yourself in a new place, and making yourself at home there. You inhabit the new place, exploring, checking out the neighbourhood, looking around to see what might be there to delight in, what might be there to love.

So that’s my story of how I am getting along during these trying times: I’ve found my happy place, and I am abiding there for a while. Some people have their happy place in the garden, or cultivating relationships over the phone or the internet. Some are cheerfully sewing masks or reaching out to the homeless or playing music...or writing blogs. One woman I know is teaching her grandchildren over the internet, and her face glows as she talks about it. What makes you glow?

I hope you have found a happy place and can abide there for a while.

For the podcast about Delight, check out https://onbeing.org/programs/ross-gay-tending-joy-and-practicing-delight/

For a deeper reflections on Abiding, check out https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeMonk/posts/2075431449172760

And for another variation on this theme https://sarahbessey.substack.com/p/love-this-in-particular?fbclid=IwAR2FTL0uvSW2Xm2NcvD3BVTfWXEw113CxU4Jv09afMGtzNFtrbhMdelkG74