I am happy because I am grateful!
During the initial coronavirus lockdown from March to July/August, I carefully observed all of the restrictions and the recommended personal safety precautions (which, inexplicably, did not include the wearing of masks), other than the one that said not to go outside if you’re over 70. When I had to go into shops for groceries, I wore disposable gloves. I was in a social bubble with just one person visiting/being visited. I didn’t find it onerous but put myself on a total news fast and us...
During the initial coronavirus lockdown from March to July/August, I carefully observed all of the restrictions and the recommended personal safety precautions (which, inexplicably, did not include the wearing of masks), other than the one that said not to go outside if you’re over 70. When I had to go into shops for groceries, I wore disposable gloves. I was in a social bubble with just one person visiting/being visited. I didn’t find it onerous but put myself on a total news fast and used the time for painting, reading, writing and the deepening of spiritual practices. I did a lot of proofreading and researched and wrote legal papers to help a friend. I was busy!. I knew no-one who got the virus, and didn’t even know anyone who knew anyone who got it.
Fast-forward to the outbreak of the second wave, which resulted in a re-implementation of a partial lockdown in October. The incidence rate in Ireland became the lowest in Europe, with the majority of cases occurring in cities and the counties bordering Northern Ireland, which, being part of the UK, had a different and much laxer set of rules. Without a hard border, the two-way flow of people is significant.These restrictions were lifted at the beginning of December, and, predictably, another surge of cases took place and, as a result between Christmas Eve and December 31st, new and even stricter rules are in place or are about to be. But until 31st, no outright ban on visiting others is in place, although recommendations as to the number of people present, and the number of households mixing were given. I had a couple of socially distanced meet ups with a few people individually in the last couple of weeks, but on two occasions I was shocked that I was hugged. Being polite, I accepted them without a fuss but with a quiet comment only. On Christmas Eve I was invited to a ‘family’ dinner by friends who knew I was on my own. I was hugged on arrival by the wife, and, to my surprise others from their extended family showed up. It transpired that a few of them had been shopping in the city in the last few days. They didn’t ask me whom I had been in contact with and I didn’t ask them. Still being polite.
I had a lovely Christmas Day dinner with a friend who assured me we would be distanced – which we were until I was leaving, when he gave me a hug. In the evening I spent a lot of time with my ‘bubble-mate’, but didn’t ask where the people he had visited had been or with whom because, like me, he would have been too polite to ask. Today I had planned a visit to my friend Ian in a town on the coast where I would have walked on the beach and then be treated to a beautiful meal in a house so exquisite that it has frequently been featured in decorating magazines. His brother and family in the same town have Covid, although he hasn’t been in direct contact with them, but he did spend 10 hours in a hospital a few days ago in preparation for major surgery that is so specialised and dangerous that it might have to be done in Germany. I was so looking forward to seeing him (possibly for the last time) and another good friend who was coming too with her daughter, a teacher in Dublin, who is home for the holidays. So nice – so normal – to see them all at this time of year.
And then a thought struck me. It’s not what I and those in my circle and they and their circles are doing today that will keep us all virus-free, it’s what we all did in the last 2 weeks. And there is no possible way of knowing that. I have been too lax and too polite to challenge others, and so have they.
So I called Ian and explained why I wasn’t coming. He began to guilt me out. The table – which is always a work of art for even non- Christmas meals – was set, he had been up very early to prepare the food etc.
And I stopped being polite.
I explained again why I wasn’t coming and, thankfully, he finally understood what I was saying – that I know that I have a responsibility to keep us all safe. So I have messaged everyone to tell them that I will meet for walks, but otherwise I am self-isolating for the foreseeable future.
Please forgive me. This has been a bit of a rambling post before I get to answering today’s question, but I needed to write to reflect and get clarity.
By listening to others – the scientists in particular – I create the possibility (and probability) of remaining healthy.
I have loved the year 2020 with all its challenges, which resulted in an increase in self-knowledge, peace, love, joy and gratefulness. A change of year won’t bring anything better than that, but with my thinking, feeling and actions all congruent in fully human mode, further expansion can and will take place. I wish the same for you all.
Blessings on us all. xx
Today I can celebrate the Divine spark of love and forgiveness.
I have a friend whose 40ish-year old son stopped speaking to him 3 years ago. My friend, JJ, has texted him unfailingly on special days ever since without receiving a reply. Last Christmas the gifts he sent were returned unopened. Ready to give up yesterday, I urged JJ to keep trying nevertheless. I just received a message from him telling me that he did text his son, and he had a reply this morning. Hallelujah!
May those of you who celebrate Christmas have a wonder-filled one and for those who don’t, I wish you also a day of peace, love, joy and gratefulness. xx
Oh my goodness! What a difficult question. I have so many!
But here goes… with the most important one first.
Gift 1. After that tongue-in-cheek introduction, you’ll be surprised that I start with…Ta-Dah!… Being modest – with much to be modest about!
The witty Winston Churchill said this about a political opponent and I’m sure many would say this about me. A high school Latin teacher with a very acerbic tongue put it well after I had declined a word i...
The witty Winston Churchill said this about a political opponent and I’m sure many would say this about me. A high school Latin teacher with a very acerbic tongue put it well after I had declined a word incorrectly: “You’re a nice girl. You’re pleasant – but a fool!” One of my classmates said afterwards that it would be a good epitaph for my tombstone, and, if I ever have one of those, I just might use it. But hopefully I’ll be remembered more for being pleasant (which, I have learned, costs nothing) than for being foolish (which, I have learned, has been VERY expensive at times.)
Gift 2. Curiosity. This gift has led me down some ill-considered paths but has given me a life of contrasts and experiences that have broadened my perspectives and made me more empathetic, and with a wide range of knowledge that makes me popular for pub quiz teams! (I also like to WIN!)
Gift 3. Humorous. Before the decimation of a social life this year, I had ample opportunities to interact and try to cheer others up with a laugh. Much more difficult when alone, but I picked up a HUGE book of humorous quotes in a charity shop recently and I read a few every day to have a laugh. Hopefully I can recycle some!
Gift 4. Looking my best to feel my best. I have learned that good grooming, cared-for teeth (for all the smiling), and walking tall will attract those people who want it to my 12-step way of life. This is my responsibility, and if I looked like an alcoholic, I doubt many would want the sobriety I have.
My recycled quote for today:
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
I’m not a gambler, but I’d lay money that all the wonderful people on this site belong in the former category.
Blessings on you all in this season of Light.
The weather outside reminds me that despite periods of greyness and mostly non-frozen precipitation (rain!) that is typical of Southeast Ireland at this time of year – what am I saying? Most of the year! – nothing lasts forever. The sun is always shining, even when it is not visible, which it often is. There are shoots of early spring-flowering bulbs and some late roses and winter-hardy agapanthus are in bloom, so there are flashes of colour. The trees are skeletal and beautiful even wit...
The weather outside reminds me that despite periods of greyness and mostly non-frozen precipitation (rain!) that is typical of Southeast Ireland at this time of year – what am I saying? Most of the year! – nothing lasts forever. The sun is always shining, even when it is not visible, which it often is. There are shoots of early spring-flowering bulbs and some late roses and winter-hardy agapanthus are in bloom, so there are flashes of colour. The trees are skeletal and beautiful even without their ornamentation of leaves, and I can see their bare essentials. The soil is being nourished and the days are getting longer. The cycle of life outside and inside my heart will continually be in flux. Fallow periods are followed by growth and harvest. I don’t know the Bible very well, but it’s stated so beautifully and poetically in Ecclesiastes and in the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Be flexible! Be loving! Be grateful!
Everybody who has written before me today has already expressed my answer to this wonderful question. So today I gave everyone a “heart” from my heart.
Peace, joy and love to everyone!
Thank you for your beautiful letter, Brother David. May your message find its way into the hearts of all humanity. Am listening to the O Antiphons and partaking of some magical pomegranate juice and wishing you and your monastic community a beautiful Christmas.
With love, peace, joy and gratefulness from Pollyanna.
Thanks for making it all the way through my post, Holly! I had’t realised just how long it was until I had posted it!
I would like to share your view that we are all doing our best… not been my experience so far, but I hope to be wrong!
And as to Brex**it! I haven’t yet found an adjective to describe that mess that wouldn’t be classed as swearing ! I’ll work on it! Tanxxx!
Are you skipping 2021, Antoinette?!!!
I love how you characterise negativity and positivity… glue and Teflon! Perfect! xx
I too love the ‘revelation of a series of new facets to each question’ that are the result of these daily reflections.
Learning about the inner and outer landscapes (and weather!) around the members of this community is such a privilege. Thank you all.
I love your two definitions of wealthy, Holly. So true! xx
Perfectly stated, Don. “…the place you can observe clearly when you don’t look directly at it.”
A wonderful quote, sunnypatti. I had never heard of Mabie, so looked him up and found another wonderful quote from him: “Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.”
Thank you for introducing me to him. xx
What a wonderful Christmas gift, Butterfly! May her pregnancy be peaceful. Merry Christmas xx
It is! The BEST! xx
What a thoughtful gift your former boss devised and you must have been a great employee to inspire it.
A visible reminder of the traits that others appreciate must be very encouraging on days of self-doubt and I am going to adopt this practice if there is ever another birthday party to go to. So much more meaningful than the trite greeting card phrase ‘You’re special’ or its ilk.
Love, peace and joy!
I’m not very practiced at delayed gratification, so I must confess I already took a peek at your suggestion for New Year, Ed! Wow! I particularly like:
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.
I read up on it too! Blessings on the internet and on you, Michele xx
And you have brought these words to light for me today, Ed. They will be in my Christ-nous emails. Thank you.
What a beautiful reflection, Sparrow. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Peace, love and joy. Pollyanna xx
While I have experienced feeling peaceful and calm in many places of natural beauty, in front of wonderful visual and performing art, and during periods of companionable time with others, I have never revisited them in my mind when in need of peace. As others have commented, the place I find peace is within – the same place I experienced the peace and calm I have described.
Your definition of “Nous” is a perfect description of the “special place”. Merry Christ-nous to you too...
Your definition of “Nous” is a perfect description of the “special place”. Merry Christ-nous to you too, Ed.
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