A Ying Yang Year And New Prayers

It’s been a ying and yang year for my family, which means we’re lucky. On the plus side, we did a major house cleaning. Before the pandemic, I thought we had a pared down existence. It turns out that bags of do-we-really-need-this-stuff emerged from our basement and attic. We looped to and from Goodwill a dozen times. Our roses bloomed in abundance under the watchful eye of someone with plenty of free time.

My daughter Emma came home from school and set up Zoom in alternating rooms. We haven’t spent such concentrated time together since she was a toddler. Nearly every night, we had dinner together and watched movies on Netflix. Emma and I read by the fire, walked the dogs, and got our hair highlighted in the kitchen. She taught us how to play Catan.

The political winds blew our way, and The Blue Angels flew over our neighborhood.

In the loss column, we listened to our friends and family on the front lines. Doctors, psychologists and caregivers who walked into the unknown. They worked twelve-hour shifts day after day in hot and heavy protective gear. My cousins wrote their wills.

Family members lost jobs and got sick. Emma and three cousins were infected with Covid and quarantined within our quarantine for weeks. My cherished Aunt Kay passed amid inhumane Coronavirus restrictions for the dying. Friends, not designed for quarantine, lost their balance, their anxiety and depression blooming like toxic vapor.

With our masks on, we couldn’t smile with our mouths so we tried to smile with our eyes. We worked on keeping six feet apart and sunk when we saw masked seniors making their way alone through the supermarket, challenge on top of challenge.

Gratitude lists don’t work for me. Whenever I make one, it feels like crumbs. There is no nourishment in it. However, as a result of quarantine and the pandemic, I think I found something more satisfying. It’s prayer.

I haven’t been a serious pray-er since middle school. Those prayers were filled with, “Please, God…me, me, me.” I don’t remember ever asking God to help someone out. In the last few months, I’ve developed a prayer routine mixed with words of gratitude, love and contrition. They feel like the sun and warm water. I’m amazed at how well they work on anxiety and sadness. It’s as if you’re simultaneously wrapped in a blanket and set free.

Amazon and I interact almost daily, which is a no-no on several levels. When the dogs bark, I assume it’s an Amazon delivery, not a neighbor. I should be embarrassed at the number of boxes we break down for the recycling bin, but the best delivery didn’t land on our door. It came in the spirit of comfort from my mind to my heart. It is a new perspective on prayer. I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with it long after Covid passes, and we are reborn.