“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
The days have grown long in our shuttered lives for the last couple of months (has it really been that long?). And unfamiliar days take a new kind of energy, because most of us have never had to do this before. We’re constantly having to reinvent. It’s been exhausting.
Change our lives. Change our rhythms. Change our schedules. Change our minds. Count our losses.
So much of our lives has been habit, routine. We plan out our weeks by the calendar. We develop a morning routine. Some of us go to work; some of us get in our exercise clothes and head for the gym; some of us put the house back in order. There is a rhythm. Life is familiar. LIke an old pair of shoes or a baggy sweatshirt.
We never realized how much we ran on a kind of autopilot; how often our daily decisions could be quickly made because we’d “been there before” and knew the lay of the land.
And then the landscape of our rhythms all changed. Seemingly overnight.
A new language came into being. Coronavirus. COVID-19 for those who love abbreviations. Social distancing. Lockdown. Models. Testing. Ventilators. PPG (also for those who love abbreviations: Personal Protective Gear). And The Whole World was turned upside down.
But we’re far enough into this new life now that occasionally, we can see little glimmers of hope. Maybe it won’t always be this way.
Helen Keller was an overcomer. She knew what she was talking about. And she was right.
We can begin to see it. The overcoming of it.
Slowly…here and there…people are overcoming “it” in the most beautiful and creative ways. 500 cars, their lights shining in the evening dusk, driving past the home of a man who had died from COVID-19. People paying their last respects because they could not gather together in a church or funeral home – or his home…or a field somewhere…or a beach or garden…wherever these last holy moments are shared.
Sidewalks are full of colorful chalk good wishes, written by children so full of love that they have to pass it on.
Neighbors gather in front of their homes or on balconies to hear someone sing – or to join in a lively dance – or to shout kindness and love across the street to each other.
People sit at sewing machines by the hour to make PPG. My sister is making as many surgical caps as she can because her heroic nurse daughter said they need them desperately at her San Francisco hospital.
There are signs of love and hope and care and beauty and every imaginable sign of overcoming.
In the meantime, though, life is still difficult. Very difficult. We find ourselves living into a question at the start of every day: How do I get through this day??? This day that is so hard.
This day that is so different.
This day that is so frustrating.
This day that is so boring.
This day that is so challenging.
This day that is so full of grief and uncertainty.
This day when I am so angry.
This day when I am so impatient.
This day when I am so scared.
This day when I am more exhausted than I ever remember being.
The answer is different day by day. At least it is for me. I’m graduating from “one minute at a time” to “one hour at a time,” and I’m approaching the occasional day when I feel as if I can take the chance that this just might be that “one day at a time” that I long for.
Most of us have made it through something we thought we could not endure. But we did. We have been overcomers before. And the older we are, the more experienced overcomers we have become.
We will do this. Old and young alike. We’re building our resistance. We’re growing our capacity to endure for a bit longer than we did an hour ago, a day ago.
We’re letting our pent-up tears overflow just when we thought we were strong enough. And surprisingly, they made us a little stronger.
We’re finding new ways to be creative – to reach out – to find beloved community in new ways – and to be okay enough with that for now because we know it’s not going to be forever, even if it is longer than we wish.
ONE DAY AT A TIME.
ONE HOUR AT A TIME.
ONE MINUTE AT A TIME.
They all count.
We do what we can.
And each day, we grow stronger.
I take a deep breath, and grace shows up. And I’m very okay with that.