Sacred Connections: Noticing
During this time of sheltering in place we are more than ever confronted with our relationships with ourselves, with those we shelter with, with those we love and unable to be with right now, and with all those friends, neighbors, strangers we encounter behind face coverings as we venture forth for work or to tend to the "necessities" in our lives.
The very word “confront” implies a need to defend, to respond. For fighting a virus, that may be an apt response. But there’s another way in which “confront” may also be an invitation to look at, consider, rethink – and in that, there may be a gift for us.
Wednesday night I received an email from my son Brooks (Ryan), with a link to a video (shown below) he had recorded for the staff in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. It was about his thoughts on staying positive, coping as a family, and communicating with children during this time of COVID 19. So curious, I began to play it, and it was a good thing I was sitting down. I hear the words, “My mother in Cincinnati…” and I have no idea what’s coming next.
What Brooks was sharing was the deepening of my relationship with Elia, my nine-year old granddaughter, during this time. Elia and I have always felt connected, always felt and expressed love for each other. Yet the geographic distance between Salt Lake City and Cincinnati keeps us physically apart except for several visits a year, and as she’s grown and our lives have become busier, our FaceTime visits had dwindled quite a bit. But somehow, COVID-19 invited new time and space for connecting.
I began receiving FaceTime requests from Elia almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day with texts in between. In some of these calls I have felt a little lost – what are we talking about? I’m not much of a phone person, so my calls usually have a purpose, and I had to do an internal reset – it doesn’t matter what we are talking about, what matters is that we are talking.
There have been times when Elia keeps taking my picture as we FaceTime, those exhausted end of the day distorted pictures when one wants to run to the nearest hair salon – but not so fast – they’re all closed. I protest, and she snaps away. She mutes, or pauses, and I wonder why we are still on the call, but we are connected, she wants to hold onto the call.
Some conversations are purposeful, help with a school project, teaching me new tools for texting, sharing jokes, riddles, stories. But many are not, sometimes it’s just hanging out in our respective kitchens, sharing a virtual walk in the neighborhood, settling in for the night in our homes in different time zones, different terrain, 2000 miles apart.
Brooks’ noticing brought the whole of it into so much clearer awareness for me. When we’re in the midst of something, we can’t always see as clearly. We’re in the moment. But when we have the chance to step back and see the impact of all these moments, or the potential they hold, what a gift that can be.
We can be aware of the distance if our home feels empty, or the desire for a bit more distance if our home feels full to over-flowing – there are challenges enough for everyone. And, we can also take the time to notice the gifts of love, the invitation to deepening, the movement of the Spirit in the simplest moments of our lives.
To access the list of resources Dr. Keeshin refers to in the video, please visit our Healthy Church page and look under Parenting in a Pandemic.