Tag Archives: Spirituality

Struggling, the Pandemic, and an Omen of Hope

I haven’t written anything since pre-pandemic times. I haven’t wanted to. My creativity, my spirituality, my vibrancy, have all felt on the edge of dying for a while now. On the edge because I still have moments. I have a relationship in my life that is a pool from which I draw love for myself in the day-to-day. I treasure the presence and immediacy of times with my nieces and nephew. The classroom brings me moments of community and inspiration that my dried-up soul keeps trying to turn into hope. That I have those things, is the reason I survived the past year.

I looked upon quarantine with a lot of hope. I took to teaching online easily and with enjoyment having done my Masters in Educational Technology. I imagined it would be a time where I would write and create, where I would connect with the solitude that used to fuel my relationship with God and myself, and where I would spend good, quality time with those that I loved in our small pod of family.

Looking back, it feels as if I wasted opportunity. It feels as if I sat on my ass and made no progress towards being a better human being. Because I think that might hold truth, I struggle with showing compassion to myself. I hear and read what others say. It’s OK to not feel normal. It’s OK if you’re feeling sad, or lonely, or angry – but I felt none of those things while this pandemic has been happening. It’s only now as I have been fully vaccinated, our positivity rate is dropping, and they are bringing students back into my classroom that I am feeling this onslaught of whirling negativity and feeling the lack of my experiences of the previous year.

I don’t want to be angry with myself, but I am, because I feel lost. I struggle with the purpose of it all, my why to getting up every day. I struggle with recognizing we can only change ourselves and that what I offer to others may never be accepted. I struggle with knowing that my relationship with God and my spirituality is still there and I only need to call upon it, and still, I feel too tired to dial that number. I struggle with making the effort to connect with others who seem so excited about getting back out there and things opening up. I struggle with the self-pity for which judge myself harshly, knowing that people I love have situations happening that are truly scary and life altering. I struggle – I struggle – I struggle.

This morning my struggle finally eased a bit. With the light coming back to our world earlier these days, I have turned off the music on my way to work. It is a small step towards allowing a space for connecting with myself and with God. I think I have been hesitant to allow for any real space in my head or heart this past year. No journaling, no creative writing, no sitting with my thoughts. Every moment filled with the distractions of streaming, social media, board games, even sleep. On my way to work this morning I encountered three young deer playing together by the creek, under a tree at Seneca golf course. I slowed the car and whispered “hello”. All I could think was, “How beautiful.” Driving up Briar Hill to get to Lexington Rd., I said hello to my favorite tree that has seen me through the seasons of the past 11 years. Its small sprouts of green glowed in the morning sun and it seemed as happy to see me as I was to see it.

Thinking back after writing this, that the trio of fawns frolicking by the stream as I drove towards a day of work constituted some kind of omen seems obvious, but how many mornigns in the past year have I missed that because I wasn’t looking? The Easter egg colored trees and vibrant green grasses of April in Kentucky, along with its spring sunrises teased my dormant hope and dreams. I felt lured towards summer and something I couldn’t put my finger on. After a year of this pandemic life, I almost couldn’t let myself feel those emotions, I wanted to turn off the feelings, and yet they began to seep through anyway. Pulling into my spot at work, I wondered to myself, “Am I happy?” and in that moment I was – and in the following moments, I wrote.

***While I recognize that some of these descriptions of struggle may coincide with signs of depression, I want anyone reading this to know that I don’t feel like I need help in that area right now and I do have people to talk with. However, I do realize that people reading this might feel like they do. If you feel like you can’t get out of the hole of this past year, there are places and people to talk to! Many counselors and therapists in Louisville work on sliding scales and do whatever they can to make help affordable. You can do your own searching – or a good place to start is with https://sevencounties.org

Love Never Dies

Love. A tiny word with so many variations. Romantically, often confused with infatuation. In a family, often taken for granted. In friendship, sometimes forgotten over the years. Does love in any of its shapes or sizes ever truly die? Or, once planted, is it a seed that never exhausts its generative power?

I’d be less than honest if I said this was a purely theoretical post. I feel firmly planted in the no column for the first question and the yes column for the second. Today, I revel in the fact that the love I feel for a friend is as true, strong, and full of acceptance and forgiveness as I always hoped it would be.

There’s not a person on this planet that doesn’t struggle with something. For some people it’s drugs and alcohol, for others depression and emotions, still others fight disease, apathy, and even their own selfish nature. Watching a person you love struggle can be so painful that at some point you may choose to turn away, hitting that hard to accept realization that the only love that can help your friend is the love that they need to feel for themselves. In loving, knowing the limits of your own personal power is both liberating and devastating.

I’ve been in that place of tension with one friend for almost ten years. Unable to be present because of the self-destructive choices I could not influence, control, or change. I gave up a physical presence in their life, but held onto the seed of love in my heart. I prayed for their recovery, I sent small messages of love and encouragement usually around birthdays, I cried many times hoping against hope that they might feel a small fraction of the love I had for them, for their self.

And then, it happened. I started noticing small changes. Little things that gave me hope. I tested the waters, looking for old clues and praying that I wouldn’t find any, knowing that I needed to respect the fact that my lack of physical presence in the past years may have impacted how much they wanted to share with me. Knowing that though my love never went away, it may not seem that way in the light of their new world.

Yesterday, I was able to stand next to my friend and know that they were in a good place. Finally I was able to set free the love that had prayed, hoped, and mourned for this person. I was able to see the beginnings of confidence and self loving that I couldn’t find for them, but could only be found through their own journey and struggle.

In giving those hello and goodbye hugs, I was overwhelmed by the unalterable and eternal qualities that all variations of real love share. My love and friendship for this person exists now, just as strongly as when I first felt it. It is a gift and seed God planted in my heart when I was twelve years-old and though it’s grown and changed over 27 years, it’s survived. And I believe it always will. Love to you, Friend. Always.