One Year Later: Still Coping and Hoping
reflecting on what’s changed, and what hasn’t, amid the pandemic
Freud said the good life was being able to love and work. I’ll add “play and pray.” Looking at life in these areas one year after the start of the pandemic, I’ve come up with the following thoughts:
The main difference in how I work is Zoom! I attend meetings, book clubs, and informal gatherings by Zoom on the computer or other inaccessible platforms by phoning in. I don’t have to get dressed up or figure out transportation, but sure miss the little side conversations at in-person meetings. Sighted people seem to be having more trouble without as many visual cues about when someone is done talking, etc. I’m used to that and to projecting a friendly, high-energy persona because I can’t make eye contact.
Bringing home a new guide dog right before the pandemic hit has meant acclimating him to my lifestyle. When things open up, sitting quietly under a restaurant table, being close to other people without getting distracted, and other in-person skills will have to be refreshed for both of us!
The new normal of getting groceries delivered mostly works. I do miss cruising down a grocery store’s deli aisle figuring out what pre-made items I’d like to get, instead of ordering ingredients each month to make what I hope I will want to eat.
The new normal in churches made me realize what I got from church. For me, the biggest thing was community with other believers, especially in song and in person: shaking hands, laughing together in the back row.
I’ve become very aware of how important friends are to me. I arrange phone chats and distanced walks to keep connected. I miss lunches with friends a lot. Pauses to think about what to say next are easier when munching on eggrolls than when sitting on a phone call.
I also miss hugs! Luckily my Seeing Eye dog tolerates cuddling and belly rubs and loves to lie on top of me. Talk about a weighted blanket!
There’s definitely more time for hobbies, but not nearly enough time to make even a dent in my TBR list. I’ve done my first binge reading of a series: The Timber Creek Mysteries by Margaret Mizushima.
When the pandemic hit and the churches shut down, I felt abandoned by church, God, and everyone in between. We elders were told that even if there were in-person services, we didn’t have to come and please don’t. This was clearly right from a disease-spread perspective, but there was no encouragement to please pray, check on neighbors by phone, and stay connected. Eventually Zoom and other online services were offered as well as some opportunities for individual communion in some parishes.
The new normal in churches made me realize what I got from church. For me, the biggest thing was community with other believers, especially in song and in person: shaking hands, laughing together in the back row, etc. As a blind person hearing that 123 other people are tuned in to a streamed service just doesn’t feel like community to me.
Needless to say, my prayer life has been rocky; lamenting like Job and the psalmists, and clinging to the hope that God is with us. On good days I step out in faith to push for a parish calling program or work on a mailing for Inclusive Ministry Church which can’t meet in person for the foreseeable future. On not-so-good days, I sulk and sing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” to myself and kind of forget the “but Jesus” part of the song. Praying prayers of gratitude at the end of the day helps remind me that I am a beloved child of God and have been shown that in many small ways all day. Church potlucks may be a thing of the past, but maybe someone just dropped off some lefse.
May your coping and hoping continue as we move forward!
Katherine Schneider is a retired clinical psychologist and serves on the Eau Claire County Board. She is author of several books, including Hope of the Crow and Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life. She blogs at kathiecomments.wordpress.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.