This past week, I’ve felt the impact of having been in this pandemic shut down for a month. While most of the time, I can find hope and write about that in my blog– I struggle like everyone with sustaining hope.
I work part-time with a research study that looks at the impact of mental illness on obtaining gainful employment. As the Nurse Care Coordinator, my job is to help the participants engage in healthcare and to follow through with provider recommendations. Last week when I was reviewing a participant’s notes from her video-visit with her therapist, I read her responses to the therapist’s questions. This client has ongoing problems with her mood, and when asked how she was holding up during this pandemic, she responded, ” My hope is giving out.”
That statement stayed with me. I think that we can identify with this feeling, whether we have a mood disorder or not; this unusual situation is pressing in on all of us. It’s such a challenge to be content in the present, but yet allow ourselves to look beyond and into the future when the things we love will return.
For some folks, it’s taking long anticipated trips to celebrate special accomplishments like retirement or turning over a landmark year. We wonder when we’ll feel safe flying or traveling anywhere on the globe. I was starting to plan an October trip to Scotland with my cousin. She would be fulfilling her mother’s final wishes to have her ashes placed at Skye where the maternal grandmother’s McDonald family originated. But now, we’ve put that on hold to some uncertain future date–waiting to see what happens.
One of the things I’ve missed the most during this time has been dancing. My Thursday night Texas 2-Step and Sunday night Swing dancing had been a huge support during this difficult year of separation. That suddenly came to a shocking halt on March 15th and now with all the concerns about keeping a safe distance, I wonder when we’ll be able to dance again. If I played golf, I could keep a safe distance, but with dancing that’s just not possible.
Some of my friends are feeling the loss of spending time with their family– especially their grandchildren. I’ve been lucky that I continue to see Baker since I provide ‘essential’ childcare two days a week. Doing FaceTime or Family Zoom meetings help, but there’s nothing like being there in person and wrapping your arms around one another. Will we ever take that for granted again?
As I’ve written about the past two weeks, nature is a constant that has helped me during this time. I’ve taken many long walks, and yesterday when I was working in my yard in the late afternoon, I found the light was magical. The air had a buoyancy and lifted my spirits. It reminded me of a Solo Journey I took to Cape Vincent, New York almost ten years ago. (Described in detail in Chapter IX of my memoir, He Heard My Voice, available on Amazon)
I chose to go there because they had a Lighthouse Keeper’s House that was a hostel at Tibbett’s Point where the St. Lawrence River runs into Lake Ontario. The hostel guidebook said that those who’d visited claimed it was “the place to see the most beautiful sunsets.” Many of the destinations I’ve traveled to on my yearly pilgrimages are on the water because I find it so renewing.
While I watched the sunset from my Adirondack chair on the hostel lawn, I felt a peacefulness envelope me and time seemed to slow down. I asked myself, “Why have you lived for so many years and observed so few sunsets?”
Scrolling through my past to answer that question, I saw images of my busy life as a mother and nurse over all those years of raising my family. But I also noticed, that even when I could slow down after my children left home– I hadn’t. I was so used to the rhythm of going too fast, that I never switched into a healthier pace.
When I have times of feeling like “my hope is giving out,” I return to the scripture that most speaks to me– especially now in this phase of my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
We don’t know how long this sheltering in our homes will last; we see signs that it will be lifted in the not so distant future. For now, my hope is that we can be content to stay safe in the present and find satisfaction in reaching out to others.
And sometimes, we can be lifted by our dreams about our future– envisioning those sweet reunions and the joyous return to the things we love.
What about You?
What helps you when you feel your hope is giving out?
What can you do in the week ahead that will help you manage another week of the pandemic restrictions?