We can separate in physical distance, but we don't have to be apart in heart. Let's process our grieving emotions and come through understanding that we need to be physically distant, but we still need to be socially connected.
First, let me tell you how I learned the lesson of staying away from people back in December. The week of Christmas 2019, I was suspected to have the flu. I took the flu test on Monday and tested negative, but my son had tested positive the week before, and I showed all the signs. I see now; it was a gift. I got to experience all the angst and disappointment and wrestling of living with a life interrupted even if I felt horrible.
For me, staying at home out of love during this season has not been hard – if I can miss Christmas with my family, nothing else compares to that.
So, as I came upon this journal entry from December 24, 2019, I was struck with how in-the-moment it is for RIGHT NOW amidst the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. I'll let you read it, and I'll reprint it below the pic for those of you with accessibility issues who cannot see this picture and need to have the words read to you.
Journal Entry – December 24, 2019
So I am suspected to have the flu.
Although I tested negative, I probably do.
So, if I show up or anyone in my family –
the rest of everyone is afraid. So be it.
We will stay home. I am sad. For sure.
But it is what I have to endure.
There is a time when the loving thing is to stay away
to be quiet
to stand back
to let go.
And there is a time when the most selfish thing is to go
to join in
to be part of things
to include yourself
to hold on.
It happens. Times when the gift is for us not to be there. And it hurts because it is the right and honorable thing.
So, I shall sleep and be done and forgive.
Thoughts on staying away
These are hard times, and there is a wrestling match you have to endure in your soul when every appointment on your calendar gets canceled, and you don't know if they will be rescheduled.
But some things need to be done NOW.
Opening the doors of an online campus
Talk about miraculous. I work with a group of remarkable educators at Sherwood Christian Academy. The physical doors closed on Friday, but the electronic doors of the school opened the Thursday before we left. By Monday, 98% of our high schoolers and 95% of our middle schoolers had walked in the doors of our online campus.
By Tuesday, it was 100% of high school and 98% of middle schoolers, and by Wednesday, it was 100% – every child and every teacher engaged in learning, connecting, and loving. It has been remarkable to see and be part of, and yet there is no time to stop and smell this small rose for we have work to do.
On Monday, we have canceled teacher “office hours” from 2-4 pm, and we'll have online PD. We have work to do to level up. We are committed to helping our parents not feel that the burden is on them; they have enough burdens to bear.
This job of teaching and educating is a ministry. I'll blog more about how we've worked to set things up, but that isn't the point of this post.
Social Closeness While Physical Distancing
I don't like the term “social distance” because I'm not socially distancing myself from people -I am PHYSICALLY DISTANCING. Physical distance and social distance aren't the same things. (I'm not saying don't use the term, I'm just going to say physical distance. I'm an extrovert, and the term ‘socially distancing' kills me.)
I could argue that I'm more socially connected to the amazing colleagues I have at SCA and my church family than ever before – even at a physical distance. I know their pets' names. I know what their office looks like.
Sunday Morning Worship Continues
You can take the woman out of the worship house, but you can't take the worship out of this woman. I serve the living God and am not ashamed to say so.
It is Sunday. Today, I'll worship on the live stream with my church. I'll connect with the Connect Group that I co-lead with my dear friend, Anna, as we help our ladies group (women aged 40 – 94) get online and connect in our zoom room. I'll also help my husband's connect group that he co-teaches with his mentor Jimmy get online. I'll probably spend some time “talking” to some young ladies that I mentor in my zoom room. And I will take a nap and check on our garden.
Beware of the tendency to devolve
You're not going to hear me rant now except to say that some schools are “forbidding” that their teachers contact their students even via email. Foolish decisions such as this – even in the name of equity – will cause us to further devolve in unhealthy ways.
Our kids need structure and healthy human faces. We should reach every child we can even if every child can't be reached. It isn't practical to ship devices home or even textbooks, but if we can connect and contact even one, we should.
But in the name of equity, some schools are cutting off all connections with schools—a big mistake in my book. We can be physically distanced but shouldn't be socially disconnected – even between teachers and students. Most kids have telephone access – so use that, for goodness sake.
My school is not only connecting with classes, but our campus pastor uploads a devotional each morning that we all watch. Our theater group is meeting as is our chorus – in zoom- but they meet. I have kids getting together who are writing a script that we want to shoot this summer – in zoom – but they meet. We've had parent meetings with skyrocketing attendance.
We're together so much, even if we're apart all the time.
Connected in Heart
As I told our parents, this pandemic can keep us apart physically – and it should – but it cannot separate our heart for this generation of kids that needs to see healthy, whole adults in their lives who are working through this one day at a time.
Choose Love, Kindness, and Gentleness
I choose love, kindness, civility, and peace because I know the Prince of Peace, and He floods my soul with joy. I am a living, breathing example of the grace of God.
And you know what, one thing that I'm learning in this time alone is that we might live much of our lives in groups but at 2 am when the clock ticks and you hear a squirrel running across the roof and the birds start waking up – that is too hard of a time to find yourself alone. And I'm never alone these days. I'm full.
And if I can't be my authentic self and share the reason for this peace I have and this life I live and the unexplainable-ness of the many friends who have been so gracious to me around the world. (I'm blessed with the most remarkable friends – many of who are world leaders in the education space and many who are humble teachers who don't want any attention but deserve a standing o.)
We all have work to do – at a distance in physical space but not in heart.
Apart But Not Alone
I'm just glad I got to experience all of the emotional angst back in December. And that too, if you ponder it, that I wrote that piece on December 24 and spent the day crying over it – is also further proof of the miraculousness of it all.
I love you, dear friend. I'm praying to be a light of encouragement in this increasingly dark world. Sharing as much as I can, being kind as much as I can, and as my headmaster has charged us- being gentle as much as I can.
For if our world needs something right now, it is a gentle peace that we have so we can calm the storms that rage in our hearts and in bits and bytes that bounce between us like the poison virus we all fear — even as the birds tweet outside and the azaleas bloom.
One step at a time. We have one less day to stay at home than we had yesterday.
So stay. Stay home in love.
It is the most generous, the kindest thing you can do.
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