Distracted, Fragmented and Peaceful all words that describe my mental state over the past few weeks. Although I have been very intentional about looking at the whole of what’s presented and not just the headline in order to maintain an objective view, I wanted to get my head away from the news and hysteria of the Coronavirus pandemic. Optimistic as I have been, I still couldn’t help but wonder how we would handle being in this quarantine situation a little longer than anticipated. It has been nice having some consistent downtime. Yes, extraordinary circumstances created the current situation, and I'm not tone deaf to the fact that this is very inconvenient for a lot of families. So, I wondered what if this goes on longer than we anticipate?
I remembered this family I first learned of a long time ago.
A family that had experienced quarantine in shelter before. I learned about them as a kid and some of the details were fuzzy, so I went back to research a little about their experience. This family of 8 was quarantined for about 380 or so days together also, after an extraordinary set of circumstances. Similar to ours it was unseen and it was also global. From what I read, even though technology worked a lot differently back then, they had ample warning before the pandemic was to hit, so they had time to get their affairs in order and time to stockpile what they needed for the quarantine. They were a spiritual family, what we would today call a family of faith, so they also stockpiled some things that would help them practice their faith during the quarantine and prioritized them based on what they gotten Warning of.
They were together, quarantined in shelter for just over a year.
I wondered what they were thinking during that year together. What did they reflect on? Certainly they questioned God. Everyone questions God. Not so much people. Mostly God. One thing is certain of both spiritual and non-spiritual people, human nature almost always defaults to questioning God’s character anytime there’s a global terror or massive scale pain. It’s in our nature to question God.
I guess the world hasn’t figured out when we want God to intervene or say in our lives yet before, during or after...if at all.
People have a say too though, we have always had one. We have a say in holding on, in letting go, pressing in, listening to, ignoring, in our response to what we experience. This family believed they had an experience with God and they chose a response that helped them get into a safe shelter.
They probably did a lot of reflecting on what happened before the quarantine, they had to be thinking and wondering if they would really come out okay, if they had enough supplies, if their faith was real- strong enough, when..if this was going to end. I’m sure there were some behaviors that were denounced and some fears put to rest, promises made. We all make deals when we’re afraid. I imagine a lot of pressure on their weary thoughts, but pressure applied in shelter can push you past bleeding thoughts in order for you to heal.
Giving you time to cultivate new ways.
The account of this family’s story says the quarantine lasted 12 ½ months before the environment was clear enough for them to leave their floating home.
I figure that they used that time in quarantine to plan, brace themselves for some major changes and make some determinations to lean into moving forward with vulnerability, humility and faith. That shelter had been the only stable thing in their lives for over a year, leaving it meant future uncertainty, but it was finally safe to leave it and the past behind.
When they emerged from quarantine, the environment was completely changed. Everything they had known prior to this was gone.The world had never experienced change on this scale before.
They unpacked their stuff. The first thing they did was thank God. The second thing they did was prepare the land and cultivate it for the new.
The before wouldn't fit properly into the after anymore, it had to adjust to the now. The reliance on all the systems they had known before had to seem faint in the face of the reality that those systems were gone forever. Old systems and ways can sometimes create the tragedy of casualty of life. They experienced the loss of friends and loved ones throughout this circumstance, they knew it, they felt it, lived it. Just as before, they had a say in their response. That world before would never be again, it was now the world after the before and the only thing that transitioned into the now was their faith.
They had experienced beyond what they knew and couldn't go back to not knowing it. What a way to experience the fluidity of reality, how it shifts between waves of now and next, now and next.
Neither their loss or their faith would remain futile. A new layer of thinking, a new level of insight, a new strength from getting through, new values, new feelings, new ways of relating to each other, new questions and new expressions of their faith would have to continue to be cultivated in order to...thrive.
New faith cultivated for a new promise.
New ground cultivated for new life.
That's the beautiful outcome of time in shelter.
Art: R. Bailey studio
What are you feeling led to cultivate, breed, tend to for next?
What old system are you willing to put aside for good?
Where do you find shelter in extraordinary circumstances?
How does faith play a role, if at all, in your life during those circumstances? Why?