March has come to an end! We have been back home for a little over a month, and what a month it has been! The “coming home” we had so much anticipated was not entirely as we had envisioned. Our longing for community and time well spent with family and friends was quickly replaced by fear, anxiety and turmoil all around.
We thankfully made it to our homeland before too much craziness had hit the world! We even managed to see a few people (the 14 day-quarantine wasn’t obligatory then for those who had travelled so we informed friends and family alike of our whereabouts and respected everyone’s wishes wether it was to wait the two-week period or see each other right away...)
Zoey had been planning a tea-party from Thailand for weeks for her friends and cousins and grand-parents inviting them to celebrate her 8th birthday with sugary treats and herbal teas! We just could’t skip that, so with the announcement of social distancing weighing over our heads from the day before, we welcomed a few people over for what we knew would be the last time for a while. It was our one and only gathering since we have been home and looking back on those pictures brings gratefulness to my heart that at least we had these few precious hours with people we love!
These unprecedented times have left me with very few words...while everyone is trying to make sense of this situation and put words to work I feel that I’m being called to surrender rather than analyse and understand everything. Our home-life has not changed that much. We are used to having the kids around, learning together and living life on a daily basis in close proximity. This social distancing has been a welcomed “brain-break” for my homeschooling mama’s head. Even though I strive for slow living, my head is playing tricks on me, tempting me with new co-ops and new groups, more activities or more outings I should maybe add to our weekly planning... not having the options to “add” anything to our week now has brought a beautifully slow rhythm to our lives.
Watercolor lessons with my mom via facetime...
I must admit that I felt a little smug when I heard that schools and daycare around us were closing for three weeks and maybe not re-opening till next term. The amount of times I have heard people telling me that I was lucky to be able to stay home, to be the one educating our kiddos, to be able to travel as a family, to spend so much time together... I kinda felt like telling them: here’s your opportunity to try it all out! Let me know in three weeks how you feel about my life! You see, God still has a lot of work to do in this little heart of mine...
A few friends have asked about tips and tricks or resources as they were gonna give this homeschooling gig a try during these times... Jeremie even suggested that I blog about how we do this on a daily basis, what books we use, where I get my inspiration from... but somehow, I don’t think that this is what my fellow mama’s and families are in need of right now. A word that seems to press on my heart and that(thankfully) has replaced my smugness is GRACE... grace to not do school with your kiddos during these times, grace to just be with them and service to their needs and yours as you are allowing yourselves to feel and take in everything that is happening around you. Grace to give homeschooling a try if this has been on your heart for a while, but mostly, grace to feel this stillness that surrounds you and that is allowing you to press pause on this “busyness” that we have come to see as a badge of honor and just be present with the ones you love!
As I write here, I hope that this does not come across as arrogant... I feel that the world has been such a noisy place lately and adding my voice to this loudness is far from my intent. My heart rejoices in this Big Pause as a friend of mind has come to call it. I am well aware that the conditions surrounding this “pause” are far from being ideal. My heart breaks for the people who have lost loved ones, for families who have been broken, for countries who have been devastated and for the uncertainty that is looming over us every single day. But at the same time, my heart who believes so strongly in the importance of HOME, who sees this HOME as so much more than a word or a place but as the heart, the root and the foundation of our society is so grateful that everyone had to return to it.
(I feel like I must add that, I know that for some, home is far from being the ideal place to be right now, and for those, my heart cries out for you...) But, I speak for myself and I think for most of the people that we frequent when I say that this is your chance to finally BREATHE.
We have been running around chasing god knows what and for what purposes, we forget.... We have been struggling to catch our breath, only getting a few breathers here and there during our two-weeks summer vacations, but even then we have kept ourselves busy either seeing new places or ruling off things on our to-do list. Let’s admit it, we’ve been in need of this Big Pause for quite a long time. Doesn’t it feel good to breathe again, to rest, to enjoy the little people we have created for a little longer than we usually can?
I read a really good book while we were travelling called “Teaching from rest, a homeschooler’s guide to unshakable peace”, it has to do with homeschooling obviously, but I can see now that it can somehow be applied to this “quarantine” time.
Here are a few quotes:
“Rest begins with acceptance, with surrender.”
“When I take on the challenge of this day with both hands and trust that we are right where He wants us, that’s when I experience unshakable peace.”
“Rest is the virtue between negligence and anxiety”
As I was saying, I feel that the world has been so noisy in the past few weeks... I had to take a step back and cut out a bit of the noise. Rest cannot be found if we keep going after noise, and just as the last quote says, it cannot be found in negligence either. So, Jeremie and I have been keeping informed about the whole COVID situation even before it became a pandemic (since we were travelling with our most precious cargo) but we also agreed that we would not let ourselves be taken over by anxiety and choosing where we get our information and when we get it has been crucial to this.
In this day and age, where efficiency is of the utmost value and where time is making itself scarce, this “time-out” should come as a relief.
I had been dealing with this feeling of overwhelmed for years now. Funny enough, just before we left for our trip, I had read about a women who had spent some time in a monastery in Chiang Mai in search of some spiritual answers. We have all seen the movie, or read the book Eat, Pray, Love... I wasn’t looking for a pilgrimage or even on the hunt for enlightenment, but I was hoping that our trip could provide the opportunity to address this feeling of “overwhelmed” and hopefully “make it better.”
I realized I was in deep need of surrender... I needed to unload and reset and what I found was Rest, Peace and Love! While I willingly surrendered my need to have everything under MY control, my heart could finally rest in Peace. I think I was slowly being prepared for what lay ahead of us. As we stand together as a family in the midst of all this craziness, I am at peace. I’m not sure I could have told you the same thing a few weeks ago but somehow now, I feel like I am where I need to be... and so are you!
Here are a few things to ponder on as you practice this social distancing (again quotes from the book mentioned earlier):
“If you have more to do than time to do it in, the simple fact is this: Some of what you are doing isn’t on His agenda for you.”
“We must treat time as the finite resource it is, insist on margin, consider alternative scheduling options, and ultimately, remember that time isn’t ours to begin with.”
“In his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson tells us, “Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”
“There is room, then, to breathe, to take what comes and see all of the unanticipated interruptions as pieces that make up a full and varied life. Life is made up of inconsistencies, so make sure your schedule provides guide rails for your day rather than serving as a measure of guilt or frustration as you do your best to keep things running smoothly.”
“You are never behind-you are right where you are supposed to be.”
And now I end with this(I promise)
“By definition, to be efficient is to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. But relationships need time, spent lavishly... relationships just aren’t efficient.”
We’ve been given the gift of time, the gift of not needing to be efficient for an undetermined amount of time... let’s lavishly spend this time on relationships with the people that we care about the most!