Friday, April 3, 2020

Quarantine with Peace

I have to admit I had a little panic attack the other day when I heard we have to self-quarantine until April 30th now. I can't do that, I thought. I won't do it. But I will.

By no means am I taking this lightly. It is sad seeing the case numbers and the lives lost. It is equally sad seeing people being laid off or losing their jobs entirely. I am fortunate to be able to go into work one or two days a week (alone) at my dental office to call patients and open the mail, etc.

What's bothering me so much though is all the negativity. News, social media, friends, and armchair quarterbacks alike. I think we all need, more than ever, healthy does of what's good, positive, and uplifting.

Mr. Rogers had once said, "Look for the helpers, when things are scary." (Not in those exact words.) I find that if we do LOOK, they are all around. I see people stepping up for good in so many communities. Though they are practicing social distancing, they are thinking of creative ways to show how much they care, or offer hope, a daily scripture, or a smile. Isn't that the best way to get through a crisis?

At the time of my life that was the most difficult and saddest, my mother's dementia and subsequent loss of my father and then mother nine months later, I found a lot of good all around me. There were the helpers at that time: friends who brought food, stayed by my side, ran errands, wrote messages of cheer, or called to see what they could do.

There were moments of laughter between my brother and I. It became a time to remember some of the crazy antics our parents had done through the years. Mom always said to remember her and laugh. I never thought it could be possible, but it was.

When I was younger, I used to think that the death of my parents would push me over the brink of sanity. And though it was horrible to go through, there was peace that filled my heart. It filled it so much that it overflowed to others. I remember at the funeral home, as people approached me, I sensed a holy presence (the Spirit) all around me. I was able to talk with others and give them the comfort they sought so hard to give to me. I lived and breathed that peace.

Is it possible to keep peace around us like a shield when all of this is going on in the world? The answer is yes. Sure we can find pockets of peace in the day, when the sun is shining on our face, birds are singing sweetly, we are lost in a great book, or doing something we truly enjoy. But that real inner peace is something else entirely.

I remember where I was when complete brokenness enveloped me in its gloomy embrace. I sat in the window well of Heritage Valley Hospital. The doctors and nurses weren't holding out much hope any longer for Dad. My brother and I used to will him to live with everything inside us. I used to think if I could keep breathing for him, he will keep breathing for us. As I watched my father on life support, however, I realized those precious breaths were for naught this time.

In that window of the hospital, I broke and said, "God, your will be done." The words were said with meaning and the knowledge that I'd just let my father go. However I was letting him go completely into God's care and loving arms right then. With my heart breaking, I was able to find courage and peace to say goodbye to my father. It was that courage and peace that stayed with me through his death, funeral, caring for Mom, and her death. It may have wavered a bit, but never left my side.

May you find that true inner peace and the courageous warrior you can be as we go through this pandemic together. Ask for it. God will answer.

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