But did I use the gift of time to share my faith and other musings in written form? No. You know how I spent the days that stretched out before me this past year? Well, I pursued a number of useful and useless endeavors:
- Like everyone else, I tried baking bread… I started and nurtured a sourdough starter, baked a couple of tasty loaves, but then… I lost interest, and my starter took on the appearance of a science project. (Fun fact: One of my ancestors was instrumental in developing a more efficient strain of penicillin – so that enough vaccine could be produced and made available to the Allied troops in time for the D-Day landings!)
- I did jigsaw puzzles – including some that were massively complicated!
- I participated in Zoom meetings and live-streamed church services, concerts, author readings, lectures, fundraising events… If it could be streamed, I logged on. In a way it was easier, right? No need to make the huge commitment of getting dressed, getting in your car… Honestly, I’m really spoiled now. Although I miss live music, it might be hard for me in the future to take those extra steps to be present at events! And I’m an extrovert!! I can’t imagine how introverts must feel!
- I watched re-runs of the Great British Baking Show, and tons of cooking videos on Facebook… Why is it so soothing to watch someone frosting a cake on a rotating plate? With plenty of time to cook, I tried to replicate some of the things I saw, but nothing ever looked like stuff in the videos!
- I endeavored to turn every holiday up to eleven within the confines of our home. In a normal year we are holiday people –any occasion to eat seasonal candy, decorate the house, give presents… but, as I said, I tried to amp the special days up any way I could... mostly with special takeout meals – preferably from Fearrington, Angus Barn or Crook’s Corner — but also some other flourishes! Like, for Christmas, which at our house is usually already at 11, we went just that much further and lit an Advent wreath and did a little scripture reading every Sunday. And, for Valentine’s Day I MADE candy. Specifically, Golden Oreo truffles and chocolate pizza… Both of which were decadent enough to make your teeth hurt, but oh-so-good. We celebrated the election like we were Joe Biden himself! We even gave a nod to some holidays that are outside of our purview!
- We made our own holidays! Even our Saturdays have become de facto holidays. Tom has been the program director and chief engineer of our weekly movie nights, which begin with an early dinner, followed by a wacky Three Stooges short, a cartoon (Looney Tunes or Disney), a serial (Gene Autry anyone?) and then the night’s feature. The features vary widely and are tailored toward Bill… from 70s fare (The In-Laws, The Taking of Pelham 123, Jaws) to classics (Sunset Boulevard, Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Searchers) to easy fun stuff (Raising Arizona, True Stories.) After that, we might or might not watch Svengoolie’s offering on Me.TV. This is the point when I usually fall asleep… if I haven’t already! In nice weather, Tom set up a screen outside and we invited our friend Grace over and had a little socially distanced BYO party out there!
- I went shopping. I couldn't go to stores, but I also couldn't ignore the store that was just looking me in the face every time I sat down to work! And weirdly, I bought shoes. Not sure why, since I mostly wore the same three pairs of shoes all year! UGG boots indoors, checkerboard vans for rare forays into the outside world, and running shoes for working out. Because that’s something else I spent an inordinate amount of time doing.
- I love working out, but in normal times, I tend to do the minimum amount of exercise to achieve a moderate amount of fitness. I'm a big fan of this 22-minute workout advocated by NPR. But now, suddenly, with nothing but time on my hands... well... I did yoga, pilates, step aerobics, HIIT workouts, weightlifting, core work, stretchy band exercises, countless pushups… you name it. I started out revisiting old videos like Cher Fitness: A New Attitude, and graduated to the intricate steps and tough strength routines of Cathe Friedrich and the vigorous downward dogging and yoga flowing to the pumpin' playlists at Bulldog Yoga. Y’all I can do the crow pose! And side crow! Heck, I’m probably fitter now at nearly 59 than I’ve been in a LONG time!
BUT… why, oh why, didn’t I write? Wasn’t there stuff to say? You bet there was! What with the awful pandemic, forced self-isolation, an election fraught with controversy, increasing racial tensions, a crazy insurrection… Did I have an opinion on any of this? You bet I did! Why didn’t I write about it?
I guess I was… well… I think the term is “listless”…
(of a person or their manner) lacking energy or enthusiasm.
Yes, I think that’s the word. Although I do have plenty of lists believe you me! To-do lists, to-cook lists, to-clean lists, to-read lists, grocery lists, shopping lists, Christmas lists, top-ten lists… You name it, I have a list. What I didn’t have was energy or enthusiasm, as specified in the definition above.
But I was thinking about writing. Non-stop. And what I mostly wanted to tell y'all... is how even when we feel like things are falling apart around us, God is still the King of the Universe who will, in time, make everything all right.
And I know that’s easy for me to say… all things considered I’ve had a pretty easy time of it. My sister posted one of those memes about "which lockdown house would you choose?" and after considering my options, I had to admit that my house was just as good as most of those. I mean, sure we don’t have a private beach or a hot tub, but our backyard is pretty spacious, and we do have plenty of pizza and beer and snacks and chocolate and coffee and books and Netflix and what have you…
Anyhoo, what I mean to say is that I guess it’s easy for me to make the assertion that everything’s gonna be all right… But it’s really there in the Bible. And it doesn’t refer to just steady employment, no more COVID or a president we can get on board with. Because these things… and the things in your lockdown house - the pizza and beer and such… they're not going to get very far in filling that God-shaped hole in your soul that Blaise Pascal talked about so eloquently? But that’s what the Bible’s is all about… Filling that gaping hole. Dig these words from Revelation 21:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Thing is, y’all, I believe that this refers to real, physical events that are actually going to occur. AND ALSO this real, happening thing will ACTUALLY fill the gaping hole! I don’t know the particulars beyond what's written above*, but I do believe it’s a real thing that’s 100% going to happen!**
And not that I hate life or anything… in fact my life is pretty sweet… I live in an awesome lock-down house! That said, regarding the end of the world as we know it, Lenny Bruce is not afraid, and neither am I!
*Jesus said: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
**I guess that might sound like a crazy assertion, but when you're one of those crazy Christians, it comes with the territory!