Monday, March 30, 2020

Cri de Coeur

Art I created at the NextChurch conference in Baltimore, February 2018

We are fine here.  But we are not exactly fine.

I’m not even physically involved in moving my Mom from assisted living to skilled nursing care, and still I am exhausted.  I am emotionally worn out by trying to calm her down, at the same time as the world’s dread presses in on me.  It’s like 2016 all over again, except more fear-filled and more compressed. 

When I tell Mom that a worldwide virus pandemic has caused the governors of every state in which her children live to issue stay-at-home orders, and that’s why we can’t be there to help her make this move, she doesn’t believe me. She thinks we are staying away on purpose, as some kind of punishment.  Her suspicion of our motives is hard to take.

In tonight’s virtual church meeting, our devotional included the disciples in the boat during the storm (Mark 4:35-41).  The boat was unstable; the waves were exponential; the disciples were terrified.

In this household, we are privileged to have most everything we need.  Except for the ability to go hold the hand of our frightened, angry, confused elderly relatives and friends.  I know that lots of people are in this boat of fear and trembling with us.

Our devotional then had these words:

Do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
§  Isaiah 41:10

Damn it, I WILL fear.  I am fearful.  Yes, Jesus, I have little faith. I am the disciple trembling in the boat that is filling with water.   It is those next words I need to hear, over and over.  “For I am with you.”

When the 2016 election was done, some people said, “Don’t worry.  It will be okay.”  No.  It has not been okay, and it is not okay.  Don’t tell me, right now, that it will be okay, or that we will make it through this, or that we are strong.  That may be true later on. But right now, I just need to hear, “I am with you.  It’s okay for you to feel this fear and anger.  It’s okay for you to grieve what is not to be.  This is indeed a terrible and sad time.”

I will cry and cry and cry, just like I did in November 2016.  I will cry for that leader who seems to have no capacity to cry, who seems to have no understanding of the suffering of others.  I will cry for those of our leaders who are too busy doing a good job leading in a horrible situation to be able to allow themselves to cry.  I will cry for my mother, who has no person who loves her to be with her as she moves to the necessary but difficult next stage of her life.  I will cry for those who lost their jobs and don’t know how to manage tomorrow.  I will cry for those who are endangering themselves to keep the rest of us alive.  I will cry for the homeless in a stay-at-home-order world.   I will cry for those who were lonely before all this began.  I will cry for my children, and all children.   I will cry for you.

I didn’t know it, in November 2016, but these are the things I was crying about, when I sobbed every day for three days straight.

Tomorrow I will stop crying and will get up and work and cook and eat and laugh and sing while I wash my hands and enjoy the company of the three who live here now.  We will be fine. But tonight I will cry my heart out.  For I am with you.

Love is a bit blurry at the moment, but
love is everywhere

Friday, March 27, 2020


It has come to this, in the Common Household:

The Jews are arguing over the bacon.

Our most recent grocery shopping was on Monday.  We could have made it through another week just fine, on beans, rice, pasta, and Girl Scout cookies.  (I’ve listed the meals we had from March 16-22 in another post.  You can decide if you agree with me that we were dining well.)  But my husband still seemed to think that he had the right to traipse off to the store every day, because we didn’t have the right kind of cream cheese, or bakery bagels, or, God help us, just something he had a hankering for, such as lemon cake.   In my view, lemon cake is not worth the chance of infecting/getting infected.  Besides, we already had an emergency lemon cake in the freezer.

About mid-day on Monday, I heard that the Governor was likely to declare a stay-at-home order for our county.  I made a battle decision.  The Common Household Husband and I would have to go together to the grocery, or else he would continue his dangerously blithe shopping behavior.   So I declared to him, “I’m going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.”  He said, “Wait a minute.  I have to go with you.  What if there’s something I want and you don’t buy it?”

A win for humanity!

So we went, and did the biggest shopping in a long time.  I went looking for a thermometer, and baking yeast, while the Common Household Husband headed toward the meat department.  There were no thermometers nor yeast to be had, and still no toilet paper– not a concern for us, as we are okay (but not overstocked) on that item. CHH came back with an armful of meats (so much for trying to reduce our meat consumption, but we do have to get along in the same house for a long time), but no fish.  So we headed back to the meat department together.

We do not usually have any bacon in the house.  In heaven we will be able to eat as much bacon as we want, without ill effect, but here on earth, it’s a good idea not to eat too much of it. These are different times, my friends.  As I tossed a package of bacon into the cart, I said to the CHH, “I’d like to have one last taste of bacon, before I die.”

As of this morning I had not touched the bacon.  The Common Household Husband decided he wanted some bacon.  Oy Gevalt!   After a while, the house smelled strongly of bacon.  And then of burning bacon.  I came into the kitchen, to find CHH and Younger Daughter arguing fiercely, because YD had burned her bacon.  Oh, the agony of wasted bacon!  “How could you?!” I accused YD.  “How could you burn the precious bacon?!” 

She was tearily apologetic:  “I didn’t do it on purpose!”   I accused further.  She defended herself.  I left the room, angry over a pork belly.

Then I realized, we can’t go on like this, a house divided over bacon.  We must set an example for the world, and get along (and also wash our hands for 20+ seconds with soap and running water).  I came back a few minutes later.  I said to YD, “I forgive you for your bacon sin,” which was still kind of haughty, but we reconciled.    

Let there be love and understanding among us.
Let peace and friendship be our shelter from life’s storms.

Shabbat Shalom.

Eating Well during Week 1 of Soft Lockdown

Coronavirus Crisis dinners, week 1 of “soft lockdown”, March 16-22 

Monday March 16
For Monday dinner, we had chicken-apple sausages, rice, leftover beets, leftover tuna noodle casserole, and roasted cheesy cauliflower.  High praise for this meal.  Younger Daughter happily ate the cauliflower!

Tuesday – leftovers

YD cooked dinner on Wednesday night, because I had a webinar to attend.  She made baked salmon, mac n cheese, and mixed vegetables (from the freezer).  It was delicious.

Dinner was spinach-mushroom-onion quiche, using any kind of cheese we had in the house.  It turned out quite nicely!  Plus a baked potato, and a delicious ripe cantaloupe that the Common Household Husband had gotten a few days earlier, back when he was still going to the grocery every day.

Leftover quiche, cantaloupe, plus Shabbat bread.  The shabbat bread was not the expected beautifully shining challah, but a few slices of white bread (it’s the only kind of bread the store had) and bagels. 

For dinner on Saturday night, Younger Daughter and I made Mujadara, a Middle Eastern dish of lentils, basmati rice, and caramelized onions.  YD and I loved it; the CHH did not.  We didn’t have the garnishes called for in the recipe (green onions, cilantro, yogurt), but I felt a sense of triumph when I found a jar of mango chutney lurking in the corner of the food shelf in the basement.  So our lockdown garnishes consisted of chutney, hummus, and Bhuja snacks.  Delicious!

Sunday March 22
For dinner we had leftover mujadara.   The Common Household Husband said he would eat his rations because that’s what the times call for.

On Monday March 23, Governor Wolf ordered us to stay at home except for life-sustaining stuff (so, no going out because you have a hankering for lemon cake).  I call it Lockdown (rather than Soft Lockdown) but it isn’t really a total lockdown.