A heavy tension has claimed my body as its home in a season of hope feeling deferred and the immediate future feeling insecure because of Covid. I’ve grappled to find the energy, creativity and, if we’re being fully honest, at times the joy I’ve needed to be a tender and present mom to my three young kids in our ninth month of staying home in a global pandemic. I’ve missed our table being a safe place of warmth and nourishment for friends and family outside our home to gather around. I’m ready to just have the normal relational tensions of being an imperfect person doing life with other imperfect people, without the awkward nuances or downright difficult conversations as we try to navigate differences in opinion and living during a global health crisis. And, oh my goodness, what I’d give to wrap my arms around my grandma rather than press our hands against opposite sides of glass. As I’ve watched the drastic climb of Covid cases, each one attached to someone’s mother, a friend, a brother, a neighbor, I’ve begun to try to wrap my mind around what the next few winter months will ask of us, what it will cost us. Experts are warning of a difficult winter, and so I’m clinging to this truth, that even in the harshest seasons, our bodies can be a home to the paradoxical dance of hope and grief at once.

Loosen My Grip on Control

It’s a hard but holy thing that happens when I loosen my grip on the unknowable or unchangeable things I’ve ached to white knuckle into my control. This is a heart posture that does not come easy to me.  In fact, I rail against it most waking hours. In this case with Covid, it’s felt like everything I was disillusioned into believing I controlled, from my family’s health and education to the way we celebrate and gather with friends and family, has been stripped away. But I’m finding that with this open-handedness to what this season has in store, I’m better positioned to take hold of the joy and meaningfulness threaded through even the most painful, disappointing times. There is goodness to be found in this place, even still. Even here.

Make Peace with Where We Are

Peacemaking is a call to action. It implores us to plant our feet firmly in the truth of this moment and pour our hearts out into it. We’ve got to hold space for our hard circumstances and feelings, remembering we are not overcome in struggle or uncertainty. Instead, we are sharpened, emboldened, maybe even changed for the good. When we can’t be keepers of the plans that were deferred or the expectations that were lost, we get to stand in the privilege of being creators. Creators of sustainable joy, deep breaths, reimagined celebrations, apologies, family yoga, gratitude, and, my personal favorite, spontaneous happy hour in the kitchen. Bringing order to chaos looks less like grappling for control and a lot like meeting the simple need that is right in front of you.

Wear a mask, FaceTime grandma, give it another shot in the morning. This season has needed more consideration and tenderness with ourselves and for others than I could have ever imagined. We try to do the next good thing, and one loving act followed by another begins to restore what feels broken. And just like everything else in a pandemic, making peace with these new realities is not going to be linear. We make mistakes. We grow weary and short, but we improvise, pivot and hang onto hope like it’s breath.

Take Cues from Nature

We’ve been doing this since March, and yet I’m still surprised by how unchartered and jarringly inconsistent day-to-day life feels. Guilt and self-doubt are sometimes the only driving rhythm thumping through my body as I attempt to educate kids at home, work, maintain relationships, and keep my cup full enough to do it again tomorrow. When I’ve felt overwhelmed with how to best care for myself and my household, I’ve found some soothing comfort in taking cues from nature. As the weather warmed, we moved everything we could outdoors and it made me feel a little more rooted to soak up the sun and the socially distanced company of friends. But in the cold, harsh seasons, we hunker down and grip each other tightly, gently nurture ourselves by slowing down and center ourselves in the warm comfort of home. We will puzzle, we will zoom, we will laugh from our bellies, we will weep, we won’t take a beautiful day for granted, and maybe we even revisit bread baking like we did when we were cute and optimistic back in March. Winter can be numbing, but honesty, connection and grace can be the sustaining warmth our weary souls need. Good things are taking root in us even in the most bare, and sacredly-plain seasons. Each of us in one way or another are grieving the loss of things we cherished, hoped for or expected as they went to ground in this harsh season, but I trust seeds of new life are gently taking root in the dust even if we can’t see signs of it yet. It can’t stay winter forever, and spring will come again.

Stay

There have been weeks since the pandemic began that I’ve just skirted by on nervous energy and caffeine as I’ve fought to maintain normalcy, sanity and identity. But some days there is actual, ordinary magic between us in our home, regardless of achievements, expectations or circumstances. The simple and the sacramental brush against each other in the most unassuming places. What if what makes this season meaningful is not what we did, but rather how we stayed: deeply connected, honest and woven into the actual fabric of our lives. For as long as we can look on these moments of ordinary play or stillness in un-rushed delight, we can find meaning even in the hard seasons.

It’s soul-level work to keep leaning in when it’s easier to check out. It’s courageous to walk away from expectations that no longer affirm who we are in favor of ones honoring our truth. It’s empathetic to see and act on behalf of another. Holding the tension of goodness and brokenness we get a little more whole and postured to endure hard things and, by grace, more rooted in connection than before.

Jessica Mayfield
Jessica Mayfield

I'm a wife and mother to three, and currently living on a rural farm in New Mexico. I’m to live openhandedly to what this season has in store, to be better positioned to take hold of the joy and meaningfulness threaded through even the most ordinary days.

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