Full & free are not the words I was expecting to be ringing in my heart after twelve weeks of Coronavirus lockdown shielding with my family.
I doubt I’ll ever forget that Monday evening on 16th March, when we gathered as a family around the Coronavirus daily briefing. We tuned in to hear the Prime Minister announce that certain groups of people would be asked to shield for twelve weeks. My husband has Cystic Fibrosis, and so he was one of those asked to shield. We spent that evening processing together, trying to get our heads around staying put for three months with our three kids. I hastily penned a timetable to give some structure to our days and gathered together some home learning equipment. As we ate dinner the following evening, we had fun coming up with loads of ideas to help us pass the time, a ‘summer Christmas’ being everyone’s favourite.
I love a change in season and a new challenge; they feel full of possibilities and potential. Potential to grow, to learn, to develop, to fix, to heal, to change. I felt excited, yet keenly aware that I usually feel a little daunted heading into a six-week summer holiday with the kids. I try to break it up into manageable chunks so that I don’t have more than two weeks straight with just me and all three kids. This would be twelve weeks without the meetups and outings that I usually rely on – I knew it would throw up some challenges.
A bit of background info here might help. Our three kids joined our family through adoption. Like pro Cub Scouts, they’ve been awarded an armful of badges over the years: ADHD, ADD, speech and language difficulties, attachment difficulties, learning difficulties and delayed motor skills to highlight a few. Having the three of them together is not always easy or pleasant. If you liken their interactions to a game of tennis, I spend a lot of time functioning as the ball girl. I fetch the conversational ball when it has landed in the net or gone out of the lines, and try to get it back in play, hoping that a rewarding rally might ensue. It rarely does, but just think how impressive my step-count would be if these moments really were a tennis game. The kids have all been used to one-to-one support in school. The thought of trying to help them learn in their very individual ways with their differing needs was somewhat daunting, because, you know, I am just one person and nowhere near as patient or kind as I am hoping to become.
All that said, I optimistically launched into this shielding marathon, hoping that we would thrive rather than just survive. I’m so thankful that, for the most part, that is what has happened. Here we are, over 100 days in, and I can see that there have been many moments where I have felt fuller and freer than ever before. I think having the physical space and time to slow down and shrink our world a little has done my soul good. I have felt increasingly free from excess demands, expectations and constraints. I’ve also felt more full of wonder, joy and delight.
You know how there’s often a day in early spring, where you feel the warmth of the sun on your face? It’s like a forgotten pleasure, and is full of promise and hope.
I LOVE that moment.
I bask in it. My skin and my soul just cry out, “shine upon me, wonderful sun. Don’t stop, I’m so thirsty”. Well, that’s what this season has felt like — hundreds of little moments where I’ve stopped to bask in the warmth of the Son. And now, as life gradually picks up its pace, I want to keep living full and free. I need to learn how to keep my heart and mind quiet enough to notice when the Son comes out, so I can pause to bask in his radiance and feel my heart fill with joy again. And I think I’m going to need to be very intentional about it because my mind naturally canters rather than walks.