It has been a week like no other. Busy with work, I was at home on quarantine due to a non-close contact coming down with Covid, and trying not to get frustrated over my town’s bungling health system. Then, on Tuesday, I got the dreaded call. I had to be swabbed due to a truly close contact from work testing positive for Covid the previous week. At the testing centre, I stayed calm, not wanting to add to the inexperienced staff’s stress. One other colleague had no such concerns and raised a ruckus as we were all quarantine tagged for a second time.
I drove home from the test, filled with noise inside of me, thinking about how another 10 days of quarantine was going to find its form. Since my town is on Enhanced Lockdown for 2 weeks and the rest of the country on Lockdown, there was no chance of travelling anywhere. But being quarantined at home meant not being able to even go out to town for grocery shopping. It meant relying on my husband to do it. I thought of the shopping list I had carefully written out for him just a few days back. One list that would keep us comfortable for a week – if not more.
My husband had come home with a quarter of the items on that list – despite staying out far longer than I usually did. He is a very capable shopper but that day, he went into one store and that was it. No zipping around town for him. Clearly, he had none of my frenzy. And that told me just how the shopping for the next ten days of my quarantine was going to be.
Determined to pick my battles, I let that slide. We weren’t going to starve. And I was capable enough of making meals out of anything.
Funny how such a tiny moment like that could set the tune for the rest of the days. The hours went forth from that little choice, falling into more mellowed lines, unmarked by any unnecessary hurry.
It was into this slow hours that I realised that Lent would be upon us soon. Every Lent for years now, God has come to open a door, leading my spirit on a journey never taken before. But in order to discern, I have to still my spirit and ask – and listen.
What is my Lent to be, Lord?
Today, something began to take form. The winds had been blowing for days now. Some of its words I understood, some I didn’t catch. Yet, slowly, understanding had begun to slip its arms around my heart.
Every message must be discerned.
And every discernment put to the test.
Just as I was to go deeper, a dart was fired from outside. All the hundred plus members of my organization had to be swabbed for Covid now. No clear reason was given; we were just expected to obey or the Law would be invoked against us. Still, not wanting to have a swab up my nose or throat more times than necessary, I hastened to make some calls. After some conflicting information by the authorities, it was nevertheless settled that I had to be swabbed yet again, 4 days after the previous one, and despite testing negative for the virus.
I decided quickly, hurriedly dressing and driving fast to the testing centre. I wanted to be there early and out before the rest of my noisy, garrulous lot descended. I wanted to get everything over and done with and return to my relatively orderly life.
I was done in less than an hour. Reluctantly driving home along deserted roads, wanting so much to drive fast and drive long along familiar tree-lined routes, I went over the sudden change in the past hours. A calm and serene morning, blessed by gentle sunshine and tipsy birdsong. Then, a shot of confusion out of nowhere. The ensuing ruckus. Granted, I was not the only one affected; everyone was – in their own way.
But the personal timing of it set off some bells. Coming just as I was going to step inside this inner room, deepen my discernment, make out the path ahead, it was obvious to me someone or something didn’t want me leaning in to God. It wanted me frazzled and distracted, overly busy.
Short weeks ago, just before life turned upside down, I saw the words, The Time for Work is Over. While I didn’t think it meant quitting my job, I sensed a hidden layer to the words – as I did an invitation to parse and to understand what it meant to me.
Today, the mists part a little. I am going into a time when work will surely continue but must not be allowed to dominate. As with the background music that plays in a restaurant, that music has its purpose but it is not there to take over the dining experience. Likewise, this is something I need to learn to manage. To continue to work hard and honestly earn my wages, yet not allow it to cloud my vision nor mute my listening.
For the winds that continue to blow insistently have words hidden in their lows and swells. Only the quiet of winding down can reveal all.