Lockdown Lessons

Many are saying that 2020 is the worst year ever. And I agree, I never would have chosen to stay-at-home. Many are suffering in ways that breaks my heart.

But if you are a glass half-full optimistic type person, there are silver linings. (I have been on a cliché kick lately). For some of us, this has been a time of reflection of our lives, and a time to ask for divine wisdom on where to go once the doors are open to rebuild.

I learned the joy in writing posts.

I learned that God provides in unusual ways, requiring me to step out of my comfort zone in two separate situations.

I have reassessed my writing projects, putting one on the back burner: my Coos Indian flash fiction series. I am writing my first sonnet, and I have to say I hate it. I will do it once to say I did one. Not all bucket list items are fun.

I opened my college grammar book, and decided it was time to brush up.

I have heard the phase “New Normal.” I don’t accept it. I see the major writing magazines writing many articles around this concept, and in a few this concept has taken center stage over their main mission – writing encouragement and advice. I enjoy writing as a hobby and hoping to touch a few lives out there, so I don’t read many articles on publishing. But I have been taking notice of the writing industry and how it will change in the days ahead, in this cultural war.

Two Cents Worth on Masks

I have avoided the issue somewhat of mask wearing, primarily because it is to me between God and His child, or between one’s conscience, depending on his/her belief system. So that being said, I am going to write about a few of the non-physical effects of wearing one.

With school opening up and the choice of remote learning or masks at school, the effects of mask wearing on the children will color their worldview for the rest of their lives. This article quotes a doctor suggesting a parent have the child wear a mask at home for 10 minutes at a time, to acclimate the child to mask wearing at school. However, later in the article he says to watch for “potential long-term psychological effects.” Stated in the article included chronic stress, PTSD, and depression from being isolated.

Does wearing a mask affect one’s morality? According to this article, the answer is yes. Governments have historically mandated no mask wearing to maintain public order. Ceremonies and rituals use them to allow a person’s inhibitions to decrease to carry out activities. An experiment in 1976 showed that the subject wearing a ski mask could be bought for less money to do what they were asked to do. (Discretion advised if you open up this link.)

One friend told me he missed seeing everyone’s smiles. Another told me she could not tell if someone was angry or smiling.

The fallout of the physical effects of mask wearing is being seen, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual effects will take longer to see in our generation. The psychological literature is already out there, but to see it up close and personal is another matter.

In my Psychology 101 class in college, I learned about Harlow’s monkey experiment. The terry cloth “mother” was chosen more than the wire-mesh “mother.” Or paraphrased, the warm mother was chosen over the sustenance mother.

No one is exempt from this, we all are affected one way or another, mask-wearing or no. Our constitutional ability to congregate and be social with one another has been cut off to a large degree, and this invites depression and hopelessness and division. God created us as social beings. And the answer in the days ahead will be God and only God, for hope and healing.


Have a blessed weekend!

Solitude and Community

I decided seven years ago to move from Missouri to Oregon. Roughly my modern day version of the Oregon Trail. I had high hopes of making a new life here, and to be fair, I have, just not in the way I expected.

I am finishing Walden, and in the chapter called “Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors,” Thoreau talks about the lack of human companionship during the snowy winter months, and how he would visit people in his memory for company. It is with the beautiful geography I have made friends, along with a few hardy souls here. In a waiting room a few years ago, I read a travel magazine in which the writer stated the Oregon coast was more beautiful than Costa Rica. Very surprising to me, but understandable.

In The Imaginative Conservative, this article1 confronts the loneliness of our times. It mentions two books that I have read, which stress the importance of community, and more specifically, conservative communities – The Benedictine Option by Rod Dreher, and Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. What these two books also say, is sometimes it is necessary to be in the world but not of it. During Germany’s pre-WWII and beginning years, Bonhoeffer ran an underground seminary, and his book is the story of how it actually worked.

That being said, the hiding of our identities behind masks, the stay at home orders, and the lack of human touch through certain businesses being shut down is cruel and inhumane treatment. Even the most introverted people – that would be me – crave some social time every now and then. Some of us do not have the local option of community. And social media helps.

While on the run from the Catholic Church and living in a redoubt at least part of the time, Martin Luther translated the Latin Bible into German for everyone to read. I have a plaque in my house that artistically says, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” I could be bitter about my lack of local friendships, but I see it as a time of learning to be a writer. And as much as I despise this time of separation we are living, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”2


1Hattip to Glynn Young for The Imaginative Conservative link.

2The Romans 8:28 scripture is from the KJV.

Birthing

How many babies are going to be born during the Christmas season? Yes, actual babies, but how many are going to look back at this stay-at-home season and say, I birthed my ministry or calling during that time?

I have had quite a few blogs over the last couple of decades. I had quite a few lessons to learn about discipline in the face of not achieving instant fame (insert snark here!), doing the work because I would feel lost if I did not do my post or writing poems/stories? During this time, I learned the value of sitting my arse in my chair – or thinking in my head, which is a valid form of writing – because it pleases the Lord, makes me feel productive and hopeful, and ministers to those who the Lord sends my way. Whew! what a long sentence!


Whatever you devise against the LORD, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice.

Nahum 1:9 NASB

Day 24

With His death only three days away, and knowing that His disciples would be stunned almost out of their faith, He makes a great effort to explain that they would yet realize their hopes–but in a far grander way than they had yet ever dreamed….And it is best not to cloud the hope of His coming with too detailed a theory as to what is going to happen when He comes. Some people, we suspect, will be disappointed if Jesus does not follow the schedule they have mapped out for Him.

Halley’s Bible Handbook, pp. 608-9

I downloaded the Libby app, that allows me to check out ebooks and audio books from my local library. Even though it has been shut down indefinitely. I have downloaded one audio-book and one eBook. Walden is heavy reading and I needed a light-hearted diversion. Just like having to check in a physical book, the ebooks get checked in or renewed.