Every Saturday night, we have a Family Zoom meeting with our way-grown-up kids. Mack is in Seoul, South Korea, I am here at the beach, and we have a kid in Denver, one in New York City, and one in Midlothian, Texas. This Zoom thing is absolutely the highlight of my quarantined life. I spend the week making a list of “interesting” things that I can talk to them about (since I am almost completely isolated in this quarantine…that takes some creativity, as my conversations with myself – no matter how hilarious I find myself – would probably not play well in the retelling :). Our three kids and their families are taking this thing very seriously and have stayed in isolation for all of these months. We recognize how fortunate we are to be able to work from home, protecting our own health and contributing to the health of our neighbors.
I always end up our hour-long Zoom together with a question.
This week’s question was, “What will you miss when the quarantine is over?”
I had spent that Saturday morning in my pajamas, drinking coffee and reading on the deck of the beach house. If you remember, our weather was stormy this past weekend, and it was a delight to sit and rock and read for several hours. Every so often, I would glance up from my book to count the line of pelicans that flew over the Gulf. I remembered that my dad and I used to do that, predicting whether it was an even or odd number of birds in each line.
This is what I will miss. The feeling of endless time stretching out ahead of me… with no appointments, no engagements, nothing on the calendar. As I sat on the deck that morning, I thought about the gift of just being. Not needing to actually do anything. Just to be.
As a person who has always filled her time, 110%- believing that “busy” equated with “happy” and “important” and “making a difference,” this was a huge reminder for me. It made me think of a time, just a few months ago, when I talked to my Bible Study teacher in Seoul about what I thought my purpose was in moving to South Korea.
“I don’t know what God wants me to do,” I lamented. I had no doubt that He wanted me to go to Korea, but I just couldn’t figure out exactly what He wanted me to do once I got there.
“Have you ever thought that He might want you to just be. Not necessarily to do?” she wisely counseled.
It was the craziest thing. I had never, ever considered that possibility. I have always been of the opinion that doing is why I was here; why I was anywhere. But, of course, she was exactly right.
I think that may well be the case with my time here alone in quarantine. I believe that my purpose might very well be to just be. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.”
Each of our kids, in their late 30’s and early 40’s, came up with thoughtful responses.
“I’m happy to realize that I can effectively work from home. I don’t think that I will ever again make the 45 minute commute to Boulder every day of the week,” Trae said. His sweet wife wrote to me later that night to thank me for the question. “I am so happy to have had this time with Trae and to realize that we can work from home and be every bit as productive.”
Jack (the “producer,” the father of our precious 4 grands) said, “I love having time with the kids. I hadn’t realized how over-scheduled we were. Always running from one activity to the next. I will miss having two or three hours to spend in the kitchen each night, cooking and eating and spending time with the kids.”
Mel said that he would miss our Saturday night Zooms with all of the family. While there’s no real reason that we will stop, I know that once we are back to our regular schedules, these Saturday nights will fall by the wayside, as each of our families go back to our normal lives and activities. It’s been so sweet, though.
While I would never, in a million years, have wished for this thing to have happened, I will say that it has been a blessing in many ways. To date, our family members have remained healthy (which, of course, is the most important thing). Additionally, we have all been fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and we all realize how really blessed this gift of time has been.
I won’t lie to you. Some of these days (97 of them so far) have been pretty long and lonely. But, just like everything else, I find that mindset is about half the battle. When I make up my mind to be happy and to enjoy the day, that’s exactly what happens. I don’t have to tell you, that the opposite is true as well!
So, along with the rest of the world, I am praying for a vaccine. I want to travel and dine out and shop (I really, really, really want to shop) and play with my grand kids and do all of the things that I did before. But I want to remember the lessons of this time alone. I want to remember the feeling of having a lazy day stretch out in front of me. I want to remember that it’s not all about doing. Being is really why we are here.