"Are you hanging in there?"
Most of the time.
When people ask how I'm handling social distancing, I usually say I'm just fine. Mostly it is true. But, after seven long weeks of the same ol' same ol', some cracks are beginning to show in my facade. I no longer bother with make-up, even when making YouTube videos for my former art students. I've worn nothing but leggings and baggy shirts, often the same ones, for more days than I care to remember. I am sick and tired of meal planning and preparation, yet have baked - and eaten! - more sweets and goodies in the last two months than I usually do in an entire year. And yeah, binge watching Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime is my new norm.
Welcome to Covid World, where sloth, gluttony, and envy hold sway. Pride, wrath, lust and greed are probably just around the corner, though who needs all seven deadly sins when one is enough?
How am I? I am healthy and well... and feel like a failure.
To have courage for whatever comes in life - everything lies in that.
The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.
Be gentle to all and stern with yourself. - St. Teresa of Avilla
Am I being too hard on myself? Most certainly; after all, I am doing my best to cut everyone else some slack. Maybe failure is too strong a word. Maybe it is just that I know I am not living up to my potential during this crisis. I keep hearing about the great things other people are doing, creativity that is blooming, generous acts of kindness and bravery, and can't help but think my contribution has been a little sub-par. Perfectionism plagues me. I have struggled throughout my life to live up to expectations - my own, and other people's, too. Even before becoming a Catholic, the bible verse "to whom much is given, much is required" resonated with my can-do spirit. As a writer, I tried to imbue the young heroines of my Emrysia series with that spirit, to show through them that love, self-sacrifice, and the sharing of each one's special giftedness is all that is needed to make the world a better place.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. -St. Teresa of Calcutta
So, how am I doing in that department right now? Well, not so hot. It has been four years since my last published novel, and it is hard to write in a full house. With school closings came the loss of my art students, and a shuttered church hailed the loss of a congregation to lead in song. What is left for me to share? Preparing meals and cleaning house doesn't exactly utilize my best gifts or leave me feeling very fulfilled, something I have struggled with throughout my stay-at-home mom years, even though I have always done these things to the very best of my ability.
But... maybe it is enough.
Maybe, for now, it is more about what I can give up with love, than what I can do.
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” - St. Theresa of Lisieux
Maybe small things are great things with the right perspective. In small things great comfort can be found: a favorite meal, clean sheets, a helping hand, a hug. Stopping whatever I am doing to look my tween in the eye and really listen as she describes the latest YouTube video she watched, or sympathizing with my college junior about her need for chocolate and Taki without criticizing her messy room, I can offer small consolations with great love.
On my walk this morning, I found joy in small things, too: a friendly chipmunk, the chorus of birds, the crunch and scent of the spring woods. If the God of all creation is concerned with the minute detail of lichen and leaf, who am I to disdain the minutiae of of daily life as it benefits others?
Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.
- St. Theresa of Lisieux
Today I am pondering small things, and leaving the big things to those who can do them. It isn't a cop out. It is where I am at. It is what I can do. It is how I can love.