Not Knowing

It’s the not knowing. 

Sure, I’ve had two negative rapid tests… But I felt like I was drowning.

For that matter, all the tests I’ve had, ever, have been negative. But I still wonder if I have been sick with Covid, especially since we are still just calling it, “It.” (Except for that test the Red Cross did on my donation, but it maybe only proved that I had my vaccinations. I’m not sure?)

Like, “Have you had it?” “Do you think you have it?”

I spent five days in bed this past week. And lost my voice. And have a cough and really just feel… meh. But the tests are negative. 

But I still will honor my community and not go out into it. Just in case. 

But not enough to keep my kids out of school. Or from harvesting from the garden. 

Or getting work done when I can. 

At some point, one of these days, sometimes I just wish that I’d have a positive test, just to validate how poorly I feel. No, I don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out the current protocols, even those that are not nearly enough to keep our community safe. But, really, I’d just like to be able to point to myself and say, see, even I have had covid, for sure, and I can tell you that we should be doing everything in our power to keep it from spreading. 

I want that permission.

Would that make it so that people would listen? 

Would it legitimate what I am trying to say every day anyway?

No, I don’t want covid. 

No, I don’t want you to have covid. 

No, I don’t want to deal with it anymore. 

No, I don’t want to be afraid.

Yes, I am tired. 

Yes, I am being careful.

Yes, I am tired of being careful.

Yes, I wish it was over.

But honestly. Wishful thinking has gotten us into this current mess, so really, I’m tired of that, too. 

There’s no winning this pandemic. 

It’s not something to win. It’s something that we can work to survive. 

Not all of us will see it to the other side. 

More of us can, if we work together. 

I’m doing what I can… resting… and hoping that my cough is gone enough so I can return to church and actually make it to worship this year. 

Because yeah, that’s part of it. 

Do I want to do a third rapid test? 

I don’t want to bother with a PCR right now, because do my symptoms matter? Does the timing?

I want someone to study current cold symptoms for folks who have had covid… do their symptoms change based on a history of covid?

Because I remember losing my voice, and losing my hearing… and even coughing.

But I don’t remember this drowning feeling, where meds keep me from feeling like I’m filling up with gunk, but only just. 

I want a set of breakthrough symptoms, and to know whether a fever is common… and why I only ever seem to have a fever when I am about to give blood. 

For real though. I’d like some more answers… and fewer open gaps in what I know. 

Because I feel like I have been able to keep pretty abreast of the knowledge that is available… and simply not enough is, these days. 

What If vs What Now

Nineteen days. 

Two Saturdays ago I was walking across the grass towards my elder daughter’s soccer field and noticed a little prick of pain on my foot and by the time I sat down on our blanket I had red splotches and streaks in three or four places on my feet. I took my shoes off and noticed a couple of ants in the footbed… It was fire ants. I confirmed it when we got back to the car, and saw that our parking trestle was the center of a line of ant beds. Great. 

I got on a plane two hours later, so I didn’t really get a chance to do any first aid, or really even notice my feet as I was going through security and making sure that my bags all fit under my seat. But by that evening, waiting for my cousin, I kept noticing that, yes, I needed something to take the edge off of the pain. 

They kept me from sleeping soundly the whole time I was out of town, sleeping in a comfortable yet strange bed, with family I had’t seen in three years. 

I checked the internet, and it said that fire ant bites last four to ten days. I made sure to treat them with allergy meds and inflammation meds, and I didn’t scratch them, or pop them, or anything. But finally, I decided to put some bandages on them, but I couldn’t tell if that was helping or not, and still they haven’t healed. 

All five of my bites, one on one foot, four on the other, still are angry, red, unhealed. Nineteen days later. I mean, they don’t hurt anymore. They don’t itch. But, I’d been hoping they’d heal faster. 

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? 

Healing takes a while. 

Maybe WebMD only meant when they’d stop hurting, or itching. 

The internet has no clue how long it takes for my scars to heal. 

And so now I’m wondering if I should have put bandages on them earlier, or if I could have used ice on them (but when, who knows) or if I should have been wearing socks or if I could have avoided them altogether if I’d noticed the ant beds under our car as I was watching the busy parking lot as our kids got out to go across two lines of traffic…

There are a lot of what-ifs, I suppose. 

Maybe I should think about a what now. 

I mean. This is about covid, right? (I actually do have 19 day old ant bites… but) this is about covid. And little things adding up. And how we have so many what-ifs swirling around us… that now I really want us to switch to a what now. It’s not really helpful to say that we didn’t realize we’d be in whatever situation we find ourselves in. It’s not helpful for me, at least, unless it is to create space for grace in the situation. (Because, well… some of us did imagine that we’d still be wearing masks two years in. I did.)

And so, now: what now? 

We get our kids their shots, we get the boosters for folks who are with the kids, and those at risk, and we do what needs to be done so that our community is safe, so that our people are cared for, so that we can work together to do together what we need together so that we will be together as we live together. 

And it might be small. And it might be annoying. And it might last far longer than we ever expected. And the solutions now might not be what we do later…

But we don’t let the what-ifs overtake the what-now.

What do we need to do, now?

open ears

I have had more in person conversations with people outside of my family in the last week and a half than I have had over the last sixteen months. 

I truly believe that ministry is based on relationships, and I am doing my level best at practicing it. People love to share. People are hungry to tell you their story, even if it is the happy version of that story, because sometimes the telling of the story is also the crafting of it. But still. Listening matters. 

And I’m hearing the stories. 

I had a woman stop me in the grocery store and share with me for twenty minutes. I get this all the time. I am a sponge or magnet or glue for stories. I’m the heat signature for the tracking device. 

Its become so common that I get surprised when stories don’t overflow. When my norm is barely prompted outpouring of the deepest past and part of someone, when I encounter someone who is not eager to spill, I forget the prompts. What was easy becomes monumentally difficult. 

I’m remembering to stay curious. 

I’m reminding myself to stay curious. 

And in the midst of staying curious, to also allow and receive nuance, to hear the story behind the statement, to not fall into the trap of assuming that a single decision point is the defining part of the whole person in front of me. 

If only because I don’t want that done to me. 

I’m in this strange space of having five years of paid employment and ten years since I finished school… ten years of conversations deeply embedded in church without the performative or compensated part of it. 

And I wonder how that changes how I listen. I hope that the ten years have changed me. Rather, I know they have… I could go and read what I was writing right as I finished and see what changes have been wrought in my perspective. 

It makes me wonder what the next ten years will bring. What stories I have yet to hear. What heartbreak I have yet to sustain. What transition I have yet to navigate. 

How many more conversations I get to have. 

I am looking forward to listening and learning. 

In Threes

We did it again. We hit a triple major transition all at once and we are still in the middle of it.

Third time now, after ten years of marriage, and I’m counting the summer we got married as one of those super transitions. 

Something that has been going on this time around is the feeling that I’m behind. Behind what, I’m not quite sure. It feels like it is the end of the summer, somehow, and I have to keep reminding myself that it is still the beginning of July. I think it has some to do with missing the cadence of Annual Conference, and that mom and dad have been living with us since the beginning of june, so June was soooooo huge that it felt like the whole summer. It wasn’t. I still have all of July to get my feet under me before I have my third year intro to RiOM but it still… still feels full. 

I’m having to remind myself that it’s still beginning. That the expectations here are different than my last appointment. I’m learning the cadence and the feel and honestly I haven’t had my first sunday yet. 

Sunrise walks in the neighborhood

So in the remembering, I’ve been taking walks. I’ve been learning grocery stores (some of which I’ve shopped at before). I’ve been getting things set up in my house and figuring out what goes where and what is still packed and what I might end up storing in the guest room when my guests get their new house at the end of the month. 

I guess it’s made this transition weightier, because my dad retired and my parents are moving up to live in the same state as we are, an hour up the road. And so they are in the middle of a massive transition that is taking two months, essentially, because they don’t close on their house until the end of the month. 

It’s been good. Full. And good. 

This year is is going to feel so different than last year. I wonder in a few years if I will remember much about salisbury besides yoga, having shingles, and that blasted staircase. Good things happed there. I loved our creek in our back yard and our next door neighbor was wonderfully welcoming with her back yard. But half the time we lived there we were in the middle of lockdown. More strict than most of our neighbors because not enough of our neighbors were strict enough. 

So I think that’s part of why I’m so ready for this transition. I am ready to change. I want to change from what our last year and a half felt like. The memories of that house will fade, and we will learn in our new walls, with our new windows, and on our new porch, in our house that is nearly as old as my grandfather. 

And in the midst of the change we will learn our new church, and set new rhythms for our family where I am doing the work and my husband is caring for the kids. And we will celebrate that our kids play with our new neighbors. And the welcome continues. 

settling in to the new office

Singing Through It

Heres a thing about me that you should know. 

I like to sing. 

It’s like… essential. 

It’s how I process and express joy, sorrow, despair, frustration, anger, hope, happiness, peace, rest, playfulness, and encouragement. 

I can track friends by which songs they remember me by.

I wonder, in part, if that is why I chose to be a Bard in our roleplaying game. I tell stories and sing, as a character. I have created a character that is who I want to be. 

I miss singing with a congregation.

I’ve not sung with a group of people in over a year, and I can feel it in my bones. This, as much as the Lord’s Table, is communion to me. 

And I want to state, our church is beautifully mundane in it’s singing. We’re not going to go on tour, or have someone come record us for our brilliance, but we are a group of people who gathered to sing and worship and praise and have communion together. And I miss that.

Not so much some of the different navigations that I had to attend to. But that, the singing. The worship. The coming together and joining our voices in shared statements of what God is actively doing? 

I miss that so much. 

In my aborted procedure two weeks ago, I was trying to stand the level of pain I was experiencing, and so I started to talk to the women preforming the procedure about the sermon I’d preached a couple days previous. I almost started singing, to keep my mind off the pain radiating down my hips towards my knees and through my core. I rubbed my fingers in circles against my thumbs, and if anyone had been paying attention to the motion, it was in cadence with the songs in my head. 

I’m going to have a different version of the same procedure tomorrow… in an OR, under full anesthesia. It’s expensive (there goes our entire stimulus), and also I don’t look forward to being intubated, because I really really care about my voice, and how I sing, and that I can sing mostly any time I want. 

But I’d also rather not bleed so much each cycle that I have to make all my plans centered around whether that will be a lost day. And I’m ready to not bleed so much that my iron stores are dangerously low. But it’s womens’ health… so it took two years of bleeding like this to figure out how to work towards health, especially since I “look” healthy. (PS, y’all know weight is not an indicator of health, right?)

So I’ll rest, and pray, and sing tonight… and drink a full glass of water before bed, and rise, waiting, not especially ready, but prepared, for what I’m facing tomorrow. 

And tonight, when I sing my children their lullaby from Veggie Tales, (a surprisingly new tradition), I’ll sing it with all the heart I wish I could put into the song that I long to sing with a gathered community. 

But I don’t know how long it will be until it is safe to sing together again. Probably around the time we can share at the Table again.