“ When our daily activities teach us about our relationship to all things, our life becomes an unceasing prayer of the heart. It solves the problem how to practice and fully participate in our lives at the same time. It says that service is not a burden; rather it defines service as that which feeds our aliveness.” Rodney Smith in Voices of Insight.
It’s taken more than a month of lockdown but there it was this morning; the thought, ‘welcome to groundhog day’. The novelties, the stressors, and occasional tense communications involved in making the transition have passed. I am making a new normal life which is practiced either alone or together online. The work of being a chair continues at very much the same pace as before. I still have to take care not to over do zoom meetings in the way I easily did with in person meetings. The context has changed but the spiritual work with our mental states and behaviour goes on.
I can feel the anxiety in myself when I do go out, how quickly it surfaces in judging and monitoring everyone else’s social distancing etiquette. In the Botanics the other day I voiced my judgement to 3 young men taking up the whole pavement calling out “ 2 metres guys, 2 metres, 2 metres” I didn’t stay to see their reaction. Poor loves they didn’t need that from me. And I know this anxiety country in my heart. Its the country of fear, of concern for us all, and ultimately of death.
There has been the odd prang in our online meetings too as the technology fails to deliver the degree of sensitivity towards each other that is a given when we are face to face and in person. You can see your friend’s tension when you are with them, its harder in small digital boxes. This week I had a beautiful apology email exchange with a woman that I pranged over my too assiduous timing of shares. It strikes me that these repairs to our relationships are more vital in this online world. The sign of a healthy, deep relationship is not in the absence of conflict, but in the fact that we notice and attempt to repair conflict.
There is no end in sight, our country’s leaders are talking about how we live with the virus and the need to create a new normal with greater or lesser degrees of social distancing. If the lockdown has reminded you of retreat in some ways so far, now feels like that time on retreat when it starts to bite, get uncomfortable and we have to dig deep.
Its a choice of course.