Since March, I feel like a full-blown news station has been broadcasting from my head. Reporters shouting on the phone, old dot matrix printers reeling off incoming reports, typewriters bludgeoning their paper targets, and periodic interruptions from Lou Grant shouting about the next big story. Yes, my vision of a newsroom is firmly entrenched in the seventies (from watching Mary Tyler Moore reruns with my parents).
We’ve been through a lot in the past three and a half months. The coronavirus outbreak. School closures. The tragic killings of unarmed black men and women. Protests. And, now in Arizona, another significant spike in coronavirus cases.
Personally, I feel like I have been operating in crisis mode since March. Managing the school closure and now, attempting to prepare for the re-opening in July. On top of that, a family member was feeling ill, was tested for COVID nine days ago and we still have not received results. Thankfully, whatever they had was mild and they are doing well now, but we still followed the quarantine protocols at home while trying to manage work and our day-to-day lives. Whew.
I’ve also had an unhealthy obsession with following the news and staying up to date with social media — thus the K-Jeff Radio blaring in my mind, twenty-four seven. As I am sure you are all experiencing, the unknown (the things we can’t control) rattle any semblance of peace and erode our strength — physical and mental.
Well, I’ve had enough for a while. Leaving the world behind isn’t really a choice. I believe we have to stay aware of what is going on in our communities. I need to know what the coming school year might look like and plan appropriately. We all need to be cognizant of the injustice and pain that exists in our world. “Checking out,” isn’t an option. But, we also need time to rest. Time to step away. Time to rejuvenate. A chance to turn the volume down.
Recently, I have been reading some of Henri Nouwen’s books. I find peace in his words and guidance. Last night, I was reading from Following Jesus and this passage resonated.
To follow Jesus you have to be willing to say, “This half-hour I am going to dwell with Jesus. I know I will be distracted. I know I will have a hundred thoughts and a million things to do. But I know you love me and invite me, even when I am antsy and anxious. I am going to dwell.”
This passage obviously has spiritual significance, but I think the suggestion to “be still” for a half-hour — in spite of our distractions and task lists — is sound advice for anyone — regardless of your personal beliefs. Especially given our current circumstances.
Right now, I am antsy and anxious and to take time to be quiet — body, mind, and soul — is really hard to do. But, it’s what I need.
I need to turn the volume down.
K-Jeff radio signing off. For now.