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Shelter in place, day 1

Because we were one of the early wave of school and parish closures here in Denver, and because both Dave and I can work from home to some degree, we’ve been living that quarantine life since about March … 13th. I just opened my calendar to see the last day of normalcy and it was definitely March 11th, our last day at school and the first day that flurries of text messages about “shutting the city down” and “closing the state border” starting pinging through our social group.

Since March 11th was approximately 3 and one half years ago now, it does seem as if we’ve been doing this for a while now. Nevertheless, today feels a little extra weird because our governor issued a formal order banning nonessential travel from 6 AM this morning until…I mean it hardly matters at this point.

I go back and forth between feeling pretty much fine to moments of sheer, existential dread. Moments where it’s fine, the kids are getting on like a house on fire (figuratively of course…ish) and maybe this homeschool thing isn’t the absolute worst. And then moments where it’s 3 am, I’m wide awake, and I’m almost panting with anxiety and dread over how this all ends.

Nothing has changed for us on some level. We’re home a lot more and we can’t go to Mass which is dreadful, but we haven’t lost our income, so far we’re not afraid of missing a mortgage payment; if one car were to crap out now, well…so what, I guess? We can’t go anywhere as it is.

And yet everything has changed. Our neighborhood is suddenly alive and gregarious during the daylight hours, from a socially appropriate distance albeit. At our first inaugural end-of-the-driveway happy hour the other night, we stood in a 6 foot by 6 foot social distance circle with new friends and old, swapping stories about where we’d found good produce and admitting how strange it was that we should be sipping tequila or IPAs in the street at 4 pm on a Monday while hoards of children rode their bikes up and down the street and tried – mostly successfully – to stay sufficiently far away from one another.

There is a deep undercurrent of confusion, of fear, and of just plain old run of the mill boredom. The confusion is the most unsettling for me. When will this last? What information is correct? Why is that industry considered essential and that one not? What will the economy look like when this is all over? What about the Church? Will our parishes and schools survive the loss of income? Will we?

I know God has a plan for this moment in our lives, and I know He can use it for good. But I’ve got to be honest, I’m having a hard time hearing from Him lately. We’re praying more than ever as a family, but my own prayer life is painfully dry. Where are you, Lord? Where is your Church?

I’ve maintained one solitary Lenten penance in the midst of this confusion, and it’s my fast from social media. (Hashtag thank God I didn’t give up wine this year) Some days I am sorely tempted just to hop onto Instagram for a quick peek, a little shot of normalcy that maybe if such and such friend from California is still hanging in there and living life and if what’s her name from Texas is also making the best of it, then I can keep on keeping on, too. At the same time, it has made this uncertain season even more of a shocking jolt to the system, being cut off virtually and physically from so much of what constituted “life” before The Sickness.

The news is depressing as hell, but today the sun is shining here in Denver. Our skies are clear and bright blue with very little commercial air traffic overhead compared with an average day. Our neighborhood is bustling with people working on cars and lawns, kids yelling and riding bikes and siblings playing together in the middle of a school day because they have literally no other options.

It’s not all bad. But I’m not sure how long it can reasonably last. People are losing their jobs each day, and medical workers are already reporting hospitals overrun with patients and understocked on essential equipment. I don’t know what the end game is, or what the world will look like when we all step tentatively out of doors again and are able to touch one another.

Will we redouble our efforts to connect to family members we’ve been separated from? Will our newly-forged lockdown relationships be stronger than ever before? Will we reengage in life from a sort of zero-based budget perspective, only adding back in what is honestly life-giving after being forcibly stripped of the frivolous and the essential alike?

Will people who’ve been barred from attending church for weeks and likely months return at all? Will some families continue homeschooling on purpose? Will employees of companies who could not support them in their moments of greatest need turn their backs on the corporate world and forge into the entrepreneur life?

Lots of what ifs. In the meantime, I wanted to reflect every couple of days or so on some things I am truly grateful for.

  • Our local parish and our beloved religious community friends, both of whom have ministered to us selflessly in this time of great uncertainty.
  • Off the Charts, whose online existence makes it the perfect quarantine job – we’re still making great content and learning and growing together. If you’re thinking now is a great time to double down on your efforts in the NFP department, we’re open for business.
  • My kids loving doing school at home…until they don’t.
  • Baking, “sewing” (I literally spent 40 minutes trying to thread the needle on a loaner machine a friend dropped off last week and swore loudly and colorfully much of the time. Definitely a work in progress.)
  • Walking every day, multiple times a day. There’s nothing else to do. (If not for those nightly happy hours and multiple fistfuls of chocolate per day I’d probably be back to fighting weight)
  • Streaming content from Formed and National Geographic making me feel like I’m really nailing this school thing at moments
  • Flowers coming up from bulbs all over our yard, despite the uncertainty all around us. Nature marches on.
  • Sweet baby Ben, who is the light of our lives during these weird sorta groundhog esque days. Highly recommend having a plump and well tempered 4 month old on hand to function as a human emotional support animal (Dave super hates when I call him that but I joke, I joke!)
TBT to another moment that felt like the world was crumbling around us, the day we stood in St. Peter’s Square and watched Pope Benedict fly away.

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