I had a plan for staying strong during this time of isolation.   And I am doing what I planned to do.  I am working on a routine, and taking time to study, pray and time to work. I take breaks and make phone calls and talk to people in the congregation and family and friends across Canada.  And it has been good.

I have checked in with people at the Monday zoom with the Centre for Missional Leadership.  That has been good.  I will definitely continue.  The information sharing has been helpful, but the best part was breaking into small discussion groups. So nice to talk with people face to face, some of whom I know and others I am just meeting.

And there have been good days.  My very best day was when my daughter, an introvert, was being driven crazy by her youngest son who talks non-stop. I suggested that she have him call me.  So that’s what happened.  “Mommy says I have to talk to you,” he said and what followed was one long stream of words.  “Grammie do you know?…. and Grammie did I tell you?…. and so on for at least 45 min.  It was my best day .  There was something about just settling in and listening to his stories that reminded me of when I lived in the same house and listening to those same rambling conversations regularly.  At the end, I texted my daughter and asked, does he ever stop to breathe?  She smiley faced me and said that would mean he’d have to stop talking.

I know what that’s like.  Talking is one of my things too.  One of my favorite activities is Bible Study.  Its booked for an hour and takes so much longer.  At the end of the night of talking, laughing and being together I am so energized that at home I find it hard to settle.

So this isolation is hard in someways.  I like the advice on routines… I appreciate the advice on being quiet and taking time to meditate and read. It is great advice and that has been good.  But that advice largely comes from introverts who get energy from being alone and meditating.  That is not me.

The routine advice, lasts only past breakfast.  I make a smoothie.  I carbonate my water for the day.  I make coffee. I make breakfast and then I settle down for the Prime Minister’s briefing.

From there…it can be anything.  And I am okay with that, except that there is a general directionless drift to life.  At least going to the office anchored me and the need to get things accomplished kept me at it until I went home for supper.

And so, the last two days I have not been doing as well.  I recognize signs of depression.  I try to listen to the sermons posted by a friend of mine whose, preaching gifts often touch me.  But its only an audio file and I quickly turn it off.   I don’t want another disembodied voice, I want to interact.

I can trace when it started.  Friday after I zoomed to a meeting of the board of a college.  It was a good meeting.

Efficient.  Well run.  Organized.

We accomplished the agenda with no problems and in good time and then the meeting was over and the screen went blank.

And it all felt wrong.

Usually we spend time talking over coffee before the meeting starts.   Then we have great discussions over lunch.  Then again at coffee break in the afternoon.  I realized that although I had spent a good portion of the day in view of and in contact with all those people, I hadn’t exchanged a single word with any of them.  I didn’t know how they were doing, and they didn’t know how I was doing.

And there started my slide.

Although I know depression is lurking, I am holding it off.  There are parts of what I am doing that gives me a real lift.    The biggest thing is Hezekiah Walker’s song, Power belongs to God  

It is long.  It is loud.  It is life affirming.

It restores my confidence that God is indeed in control of the world and our current situation.  And because it is impossible not to sing, clap and dance along it is also a small aerobic workout.  When it is done I feel energized and ready to tackle the day.

I also listen to and sing along with hymns and that helps.

Today I read the worship service prepared by Shirley because it was my Sunday off.  She led us into a place where we could not only celebrate the Triumphant Entry but also grieve that we were not able to gather and recreate it this year in person.  It affirmed that bringing our pain, our grief and sorrow before God is so important.

After that I watched a sermon by Max Lucado, because although I continue to read his book, it is now something I struggle with.  It won’t always be, but I know I need to come over the hurdle of these last two days.

So the sermon:  Why are you afraid? spoke to me.  Not that I am afraid.  I am frustrated, and lonely.  I see people in my building going out multiple times a day and I wish I had a place to go.  Until I need milk again, the biggest trip I take is to the Dumpster.

So not afraid, but definitely needing to hear the message he brought from Matthew 8, Jesus stills the Storm.

He spoke of the word used for storm in Matthew being, SEISMOS, the root word of the seismic reaction we know as earthquakes.  And this COVID virus is something of an earthquake in our lives.  There they were out in a boat, wet, wind tossed and frightened and Jesus was sleeping.  Sleeping in the midst of great danger.  That can only indicate that his reliance on God was total.  It is only when you know that the Father has it under control that you can sleep that deeply.

But then he pointed out that Matthew uses this word only 3 times.  The storm on the lake, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Such an “aha” moment.  Those two events were indeed earthquakes in the way they turned over and changed forever, political, religious and spiritual worlds.

Those two events were upheavals in the lives of the disciples, the Temple and soon the whole Roman Empire.

Lucado concluded the sermon by saying that the only thing that stands between us and courage is prayer to our Faithful Father.

So yes, today has been filled with insights.  I walk this road in my little bubble of one, but I don’t walks this road alone.  I have the prayers of all those whom I know love me.  I have the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I can see clearly all that Jesus gave to us as he turned the world upside down and I am surrounded by the love of God.

So while I don’t fear the terror of night or the arrows that fly by day, I do know that they have altered my world.  But I also know that God  alters my world with what I need for the day and that he is as close as my breath and as solid as the floor beneath my feet.

He will take care of me.

Holy One, Eternal of the Universe, you know our days from before we were born
Eternity with you is the promise of our every breath.

We undertake to watch for you, to see the signs of your presence and to rejoice.
Invite us to renew our trust in you, to remember you fill our lives with all good things.
Lead us beside still waters and green pastures.
Listen to what is in our hearts and make us aware of what you already know.

Take our eyes off ourselves and help us to focus them on you.
Anchor us to the Rock that cannot be moved.
Keeper of our hearts, you hear our pain, and you fill us with your grace
Envelop us now in your mercy.

Come to us with your urgent command to still be your people
Announce your calling to us and send us forth (as forth as we can from home)
Remind us that no matter what happens we are yours
Encourage our full participation in your kingdom.

O Earthquake God
Fill us with your power and your energy.

May our praises always ring through the pillared court, the temple and our world
Eternally your people and eternally in your presence.