Last week a friend of mine started a post asking people to share something that they’ve enjoyed or appreciated since shelter-at-home orders began across the country and globe. This friend was in no way trying to minimize the very difficult situations that so many of us find ourselves facing during this pandemic. Rather, the list she elicited and generated helped to create, at least for me, a moment of hope or peace—a moment that I suspect many of us need right now.
Inspired by my friend (who has quite a talent for pointing out the potential for joy or happiness), I would like to add to her list here by sharing a couple of my “moments of beauty” in the hopes I can share this hope or peace.
I do art with my daughter, Hazel, almost every day; and I love it.
I have always liked to draw and color with my four-year-old daughter, but having her home right now, ‘art time,’ has become a part of the daily schedule—a way to keep her (and me, and all the other adults) from driving one another crazy.
We started by making take-out wooden chop sticks into wands. We have a wand that makes you into an insect, a wand to make you pink, and even a grading wand (we fight over this one a lot). Every member of the family has a wand now.
We’ve also done lots of coloring and painting, on rocks, on paper plates, on regular old paper; and Hazel likes to tell stories while she draws. For example, if we’re painting the universe, a black hole might appear and start eating all of the things that mommy painted (she’s a little obsessed with black holes; and loves the black paint the most). A couple of weeks into the quarantine, though, a new element appeared in her stories which goes something like this: “Oh no! Then there was a virus. Now the ______ (kitty, person, spider, etc.) needs a face mask,” and she draws one on.
At first, I was really concerned about this development. I know kids work out their feelings through play, but I didn’t know how to interpret these new stories. So, I talked to a close confidant and he said, “Sounds like Hazel is doing better than anyone in the house. She’s taking care of her ‘family.’” And you know what, it’s true. Knowing this tells me she probably feels taken care of as well, which is relief to me when I am feeling so uncertain and worried myself. And while Hazel says and plays and draws what she feels, she takes care of mommy too, teaching me about her world and filling my heart up with it.
I have been repeatedly struck, like lightning, with immense gratitude during this time. It sometimes surprises me in its intensity and suddenness; and it is teaching me more about myself and my community.
Like all of us, I am struggling with the consequences of social isolation, though I know my struggles are different and less severe than many others who face greater inequity in our society. I am also horrified and enraged by the way social isolation compounds injustice and by the way that this pandemic is being used as an excuse for further oligarchical power-grabs.
But I am also I’m finding sustenance and life in small and big acts of kindness.
A neighbor that I do not know leaves giant chalk on the sidewalk with a sign saying, “enjoy and share.” I am grateful for you, neighbor, for your generosity, fun and the bright pictures I get to walk by. Another unknown neighbor posts large signs on their lawn reading, “We can do hard things,” sometimes jokes and other encouragement. I am grateful for you too.
My friend brings me soup. She drops it off for me at a distance when I feel sick, or bad, or sad, or whenever she thinks I should just have some. I don’t know how to describe this soup—it is too good. I asked her once how she made it, and she said something like, “Oh, I just throw random things in the pot… but I also use a bone broth I make myself in a crockpot for eighteen hours.” Yeah. That is not random. It is amazing; and makes me feel so loved.
My brother and sister-in-law temporarily moved in right before things got bad. So, while we are all working from home, I am also co-parenting my daughter with FOUR adults, three of whom are teachers. (Four-to-one seems the most appropriate ratio for a child by the way, and I am not sure why society has ever done this any other way.) I am more grateful than I can say for their presence, help, cooking, company, and community.
But you know what gives me daily gratitude and pleasure? My sister-in-law makes me coffee. This is not regular coffee. It is presented in a warmed cup with just the right amount of cream, and almost ritually, she reminds me to ‘drink it while the crema is on the top.’ It may sound silly, but her coffee gives me something to look forward to while every-day slips into the other and feels exactly the same.
I am also more grateful than I can say for my sister who is a nurse. Grateful for her hard work, that the one Covid test she’s had to take came back negative, that her partner takes good care of her, and for the sound of her voice on the other end of the phone.
I am grateful for these things and so much more.
I am not really an optimist by nature. But lately, I am feeling the great importance and value of finding these positives, these moments of beauty in human connection, even when connecting at a distance. They help, sustaining me and teaching me.
What sustains you right now? What are your moments of beauty?
Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University, Sara’s research considers the way in which process feminist theo/alogies reveal a kind transitory violence present in the liminal space between abusive paradigms and new non-abusive creations: a counter-necessary violence. In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.