What’s Helping Right Now

Well, friends, as I sit down to write this we’re experiencing yet another snowstorm in Chicagoland.

I’ve lost track, to be honest, but I think this is maybe the third significant snow this winter, and certainly the sixth or seventh (at least!) snow of any accumulation…and today we appear to really be in for it: maybe a foot, maybe more.

The things that were helping a few weeks ago aren’t helping so much anymore.

Several weeks ago, it was warm enough to take walks with friends, or sit in backyards around a firepit for an hour; it was possible to lace up my sneakers and go for a run without leaping over snowbanks or risking life and limb on ice patches. I could take Zoe out for long walks to get steps in and stress out, and breathe fresh air.

But those aren’t going to cut it, when the high temperature is six degrees, and the roads are all but impassable.

So what do I do?

I pivot.

I try new things.

Spiritual practices, if you will, for surviving a pandemic winter – which, even as the vaccine gets out slowly but surely into our communities, and the hope of an ending draws near – is still hard. I’m finding that certain practices, rituals or behaviors will help me for a time; connect me closer to God and other people; return me to something like myself, instead of an anxiety-ridden and irritable mess. But they won’t last forever, not in a pressure-cooker environment like this one, so I have to keep changing them out.

Trying new things.

This is part of my exhaustion at this stage of COVID; I’ve gone through so many phases of these practices: first, like many people, it was making bread. Calling friends I hadn’t talked to in ages. Writing cards.

Then it was finding 100 ways to be outside: camping, hiking, swimming, walking.

Then more baking, and working my way through TV shows on Netflix.

Then running, and fall camping.

Then winter walks with hot cups of coffee and heavy boots.

Now…I’m trying again. Attempting new things. Seeing what works.

In the hopes that maybe it will help or inspire you in your February doldrums, here is a short (by no means exclusive) list of what’s helping right now:

  1. Books I can get lost in, and not want to put down: this week, it’s Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; previously, it was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
  2. A small, fresh pot of coffee brewed every morning (instead of reheating day-old).
  3. A doggie sweatshirt for Zoe and cozy blankets for me.
  4. Designating one night a week for an actual movie, not just Food network reruns and old House Hunters episodes.
  5. Leaving fresh-baked cookies on my neighbors’ doorsteps, just because.
  6. Taking time away from Instagram, just for a bit, every day to read scripture and pray.
  7. In lieu of running, dance workouts (free on YouTube!) that can be done from the safety of my living room and still get my heart pumping.

None of these require a lot of money, or time, or materials beyond what I have at home. And yet every single one is a way of caring, gently, for myself and for others, reminding me that we are all in this together. That it will not last forever. And that, even as isolated as I feel, God is still with me, and others are still near me, even if just in my heart.

And the best part of all this? It really and truly does help.

What is helping you right now?

-Pastor Jen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s