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Walking Our Faith: The things we’ll carry with us

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Our book club met Tuesday evening for the first time since February. Because we were practicing social distancing, we met in Patti’s backyard, our chairs each 6 feet apart from the other forming a circle. We brought our own beverages, and arrived and departed wearing our face masks with waves instead of hugs.

To my mind, this is the best book club I’ve ever belonged to. We meet every two to three months, our meetings last two to three hours, and of that time, we spend perhaps 20-30 minutes discussing the book for that month. The rest of the time is spent in lively discussion about our lives since our last meeting.

I’ve been part of this book club for a year and only came to know of it because they were discussing one of my books and invited me. Lucky for me, they later invited me to join as a member, and I’m so grateful.

Our conversation naturally turned to how we spent our time during the quarantine. And then Corinne, who worked throughout the quarantine because she is a nurse and one of our beloved front-line workers, asked the group: What will you take with you from this quarantine?

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  • Cindy: As our adult children finished grad school and were back home with us these past eight weeks, we have enjoyed playing cards, board games and doing puzzles. When they were younger, we were all too busy.
  • Patti: I gave myself permission to relax and to also add more physical activity into my day and make it a priority!
  • Janet: Permission to create art just for myself, on my own schedule.
  • Sally: I gave myself permission to do nothing and not to feel bad about not being productive all the time.
  • Natalie: I slowed down and stopped feeling frenzied from various commitments. Found a better life balance!
  • Corinne: Having monthly Zoom calls with my extended family. Using what I already have at home instead of running to the store.

Each of these women are accomplished, creative and generous with busy lives and families. As I later reflected on the common element, I realized what we carry from this quarantine reveals something that was missing, and needed, in our lives before.  

It took a self-imposed quarantine to allow ourselves to discover ways of living we’d only considered as something to do “someday.” I don’t think we were consciously aware of this lack in our lives before quarantine. We were simply too busy to notice.

Here’s my own example:

As we wrapped up our book club evening, I blurted out, completely to my surprise, that the most important thing I would carry from quarantine was my need for this, and I drew a big circle of the group with my arm. “I’ve discovered how important it is for me to be able to see all of you in person.” For an introvert like myself — so used to spending time alone, enjoying time alone — I discovered how dearly friendships with other women nourish my life.

Will you spend a few minutes today thinking about what you will carry with you out of this time in quarantine?

Ask yourself how this reveals what you need more of in your life. How can you create space for it in your life, as we open our communities?

There is a Bible verse that says, “This was intended to harm me, but God used it for my good” (Genesis 50:20 paraphrase). It’s an oft quoted verse in times of trouble. And there has been more than one occasion in the midst of personal troubles that I’ve heard that verse and cringed, wanting a quick solution rather than a lesson learned.

Yet, if we are willing to look at what has been revealed in our lives and in our community, we can find good in this very bad time.

Our food bank has provided a year’s worth of food support in the past two months. As a community and a nation, we’ve discovered the domino effect of a pandemic that causes so many to lose jobs and health care, and when schools close, child care. These systemic weaknesses were always beneath the surface. What we’ve discovered is how they exacerbated the impact of the pandemic.

That Bible verse will be true if we put our discoveries into practice. In what has harmed so many of us, through the unnecessary deaths, through missed graduations, isolation from loved ones, lost jobs and financial setbacks, God is calling us to create new ways of being for our lives, our community and our country. We have learned what we need. Now we must act.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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