Simultaneous Life In the Time of COVID-19

When I was teaching fourth grade another teacher would come to my classroom to help during math. She would work with a smaller group of students, as well as help the children learn their times tables using all the tricks she had gathered in her 40-plus-year teaching career.

Sometimes she would have the kids stand side-by-side and give them a multiplication fact. Often times they would answer at the same time. The entire class would respond, “Simultaneous.” Not only were they slowly putting the facts into their memory bank, but they were also learning a REALLY big word, by fourth-grade standards.
I always think of that when I think of the word “simultaneous.” And I am thinking of the word often these days because there is so much simultaneous joy and fear tugging at me all the time.
And it’s for all the reasons you might imagine…
On Friday night we gathered at a social distance to enjoy Quarantine Follies, a monastery talent show. Some people who live outside the monastery joined in via Zoom as we began with a “letter” from Heaven that Ed Sullivan wrote to us reminding us of Sisters ’66. Sisters ’66 was a performance from that same year which we used to financially support the building of our new motherhouse. (Enjoy the performance on his show below!) (And yes, we did end our evening this past Friday with a wonderful repeat of Kumbaya.) 
The evening included musical talent, poetry reading, a lesson in statistics, some puns, Donald Duck impressions, hula-hooping, as well as a drumming rendition of Love Will Keep Us Together. It was simply pure delight to gather that way and to be able to find joy and laughter in some lighter shared moments during this pandemic.
And yet, there is this pandemic, and there are the very real statistics always in front of us. And there is the total uncertainty surrounding just about everything. It’s hard to trust those oft-used gospel words, “Do not be afraid” in these moments because fear is a natural response to feeling uncertain and out of control.

I find myself vacillating so quickly between the two, or feeling them simultaneously, and it’s more than a bit uncomfortable. Mary Oliver writes about it well:

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.
There are no answers for how to deal with this abundance of emotions playing out inside, but there is breathing and there is staying in the present moment and there is gratitude for daffodils blooming and for all those working tirelessly to respond.
Let us walk in the holy presence.