Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Resurrection Art

This year the forty days of Lent morphed into quarantine (which incidentally derives its name from Italian 'quaranta giorni' meaning 'forty days' indicating the amount of time ships had to be isolated before entering the city of Dubrovnik during the Great Plague). Quarantine (or lock-down, or self-isolation) morphed into Easter, first following Gregorian then a week later Julian calendar.

It's been a busy season of surviving. Adjusting. Flexing. Re-aligning.

And art making.

First hopped in the Easter Bunny. It was a silly, spur-of-the-moment, safe-in-the-era-of-social-distancing experiment that warned me never to underestimate the silly, spur-of-the-moment bursts of creativity.

Birthed during COVID-19, it, of course, had to have a face mask😷 .  One thing that this bunny taught me with its extra-large ears and its face mask was that sometimes the best thing to do is just cover your mouth and use your ears. 

Perhaps because the bunny knows what the poets have known all along.... that it's hard to listen while you preach.

As I said, never underestimate the seemingly silly, spur-of-the-moment bursts of creativity. You may be surprised what you stumble upon following the rabbit trail.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Boston Prayer Garden

Earlier this year, in anticipation of an extraordinary busy summer, I didn’t think I would have time for gardening… silly me! Man plans, God laughs.

As COVID-19 pandemic spread it suddenly created large blank spots in my schedule. Combined with state-wide lockdown, yesterday I seized the golden opportunity and basked in the pure luxury of rolling in the dirt for blissfully uninterrupted morning that stretched well into the afternoon.

There is a reason for the expression, Happy as a pig in muck.

I was buried deep inside my heaven, experiencing unadulterated joy of ripping things out, digging things up, tossing them in the garbage, while getting unashamedly filthy when my very much earthly husband called my name and said that the window guy was here and I needed to come in.

Everything was in place for the look. The wild disheveled hair. The sweaty/dirty clothes.  The dark-brown under my fingernails even after washing my hands twice. All this topped by the irrepressible grin on my face working together in perfect unison to proclaim to the world and the stunned Window Guy,

Here she comes, The Crazy Gardening Lady!

I am so sorry, I tried to apologize rather unconvincingly, the stupid grin contradicting my words.

Then, as if this was the most common, utterly normal occurrence I begun to ramble about all the other cataclysmic events over the course of last two decades we have lived through from the perspective of our garden. 

You can call it my version of The Brief History of Time  – from NATO bombing of Serbia, 9/11, one cancer after another, one hurricane after another, Global Financial Crisis of 2008, Boston marathon bombing…

Did you realize that tomorrow is its anniversary, April 15?,  I interrupted my history lesson, turning to now even more stunned Window Guy. All he could do is shake his head, No.

The reason I remember is because back in 2013. I was working on clearing this particularly messy and dingy area in our yard and converting it into a flowerbed. It was April 15, mostly known as the Tax Day. Then I heard on the radio about the marathon bombing… and the garden area I was clearing became The Boston Prayer Garden.

It may seem silly to you but every time I see it, no matter how bleak things may look in the moment, I am reminded by its quiet, blossoming presence, We’ve been through worser… we'll get through this pandemic too.

We chatted for a while, wrapping up the loose business ends. I might be reading too much into it, but his parting words to us were,

You know, I am glad you got to do some gardening today. I really am.

Me too, I thought, me too...

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Darkest Hour

I am sure I am neither the first nor the last one to recognize that many of us are spending Good Friday this year in isolation just the way the first disciples did on that fateful day that changed history forever.

They were in lock-down the same way we are.

They were in fear for their lives perhaps not too different from the way we are during global pandemic.

…the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of…  John 20:19

The instinctual human response when faced with a threat is to shut the doors. To hide. To self-isolate. 

Sometimes self-isolation is mandatory sometimes it’s self-imposed.

What were they thinking as they reflected on the avalanche of events that had rolled over them in the course of the past few days leading up to Golgotha?

The triumphant entry into the Holy City. The cheering crowds. The washing of their smelly feet. The somber supper. The wine and the bread. The traitor.  The prayer of agony. The ambush. The traitor's kiss.

The unthinkable.

How could something they thought so right turn into something so horribly wrong?

Now their leader is dead and their own lives are in jeopardy.

Murder and threats from without, swarming fears from within.

Were they second-guessing themselves and each other? Did they think if they had done something different they could have changed the outcome? Were they pointing fingers?

Were they assailed by every doubt fear despair disappointment and heartbreak plaguing mankind from the creation of the world??

Or was that reserved for Jesus to absorb on the cross?

In that moment of darkness did they forget everything - EVERYTHING - Jesus ever told them while there was still light?

Was all their hope swallowed by the day of darkness, with no way out as the doors were locked - from within?

Monday, April 06, 2020

Cheering and Jeering

I spent most of the Palm Sunday on our garage floor fiddling with an art project. I fit into being non-essential as a (sanitized) hand into a (nitrile) glove.  It was a gloomy, drizzly, bean-soup kind of day, unusual for Florida at this time of the year. But everything seems unusual these days, including the weather.

I felt a strange kind of relief that even heaven chose to cooperate with social distancing and self-isolation. On Palm Sunday, in particular.

I always struggled with ‘celebrating’ Palm Sunday. One day, Jesus is exuberantly welcomed in, few days later, he is equally emphatically jeered out and eventually crucified.  I often wondered if it was the same people who cheered one day were jeering by the end of the week? 


Maybe not.

Sometimes those of us who cheer the loudest are the biggest traitors.

Take Peter.

Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.

Or Judas

…a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said, Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?

Or really, all the disciples.

Which pretty much puts a spotlight on each of us.

Humans are so fickle. You would think that with that kind of track record, one would find a bit more humility in the ranks.

One would think…

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

It's All My Fault

Congratulations! We made it to April.

Some of us wish that today we find out that entire month of March was just a big fat April Fool’s Day joke.

Some of us wonder if this was just a prelude to the Hunger Games reality show in which we are all participants. We just need to figure out which districts and people are essential and which are non-essential.

Some of us are wondering WHY is all this happening, while self-examining types are doing deep soul-searching and beginning to question whether this is really all their fault.

When I was a child and my sister and I would start arguing whose fault it was that this happened or that, my dad would always say,

I did it! It’s my fault.

Growing up this was exceedingly confusing because it was very clear that nothing could be further from the truth.  Whatever caused the raucous, had nothing to do with him.

Now that I am a parent, I am finally beginning to understand why he did that.

So in our current situation, if blame needs to fall on someone, why not it be me. It’s all my fault.

You think I am joking? No. I am not.

Earlier this year I admit I was griping A LOT about how busy this spring and summer were shaping up to be. We have a junior and a senior in high-school. This means graduation and all the accompanying mayhem, college/scholarship searches and applications, testing, pre-college programs, my 98 year old father-in-law’s visit, then keeping him company in Maine, other visitors, travels, back and forth, back and forth, on top of just regular survival stuff, school, rehearsals, after-school activities… Our 25th wedding anniversary is this year, and we should do something special, maybe book a cruise, but who is going to take care of the cat and….Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh…. Our lives were moving way too fast for my taste and quickly getting out of control. 
Moreover, it felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it.


Just. Like. That. 

I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but as they say, be careful what you pray for… I didn’t mean ‘global pandemic’ when I said, ‘this needs to stop’… I just thought my little craziness, our little circus.