Feeling Useless in a Pandemic
Today is Tuesday, March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day, and the second day of work quarantine for me. I am Beth DeRiggi, the Director of Worship for Incarnation Anglican Church. I have to be honest with you folks—I did NOT think I’d be staying home from work. I did NOT think I’d have to imagine what I’d fill my days with. I did NOT think I’d have to find ways to feel useful. I’ve just never had a thought of what that kind of contingency would look like. But let me tell you, in the very real lockdown of our society happening now, for the good of all, I—along with a lot of folks—am having to figure it out regardless. I’ll give you a couple recommendations if you’re suddenly quarantined due to recent foreign travel, or sent home from work to stem the spread (with either telework to do, or in my case—no hope of telework):
Tap into virtual spaces that can create much-needed social time with far-flung family and friends, and
Find ALL THE ONLINE ART
This whole thing has caught us all off-guard. What does a person who normally has 10 hours of work per day to do suddenly do to cope with a full two weeks of presumed work at home, or administrative leave with NO work to do at home? I had no clue this morning. But as the day wore on, my roommate reminded me of exercise (find it online, it’s ALL OVER). My sisters suggested I share a FaceBook Live concert from our favorite artist (we had a “watch party” in which the three of us could live-comment together. It was such a balm for my soul). And then, a friend had a need, and I canvassed my coworkers (who are also looking for ways to feel useful). I was able to meet a small need in the midst of a new normal that felt so placeless, so untethered to all the things I ordinarily do to add tangible meaning to my day. Folks, there are chances to be useful EVERYWHERE. Your community may need canned goods for food pantries. If you’ve been told not to come to work, scrounge around your house or safely (and with gloves?) go to a local grocery store and buy canned goods that you can donate. Find art that is being live-streamed and can be enjoyed from home. Does someone need a resource that you can drop without contact on their porch? Find a way to do it!! I have been blessed by 24 hours of opportunities that I initially thought would be a day of me sitting at home and feeling I’ve got no use or no way to contribute. There are ways, and we just need to be looking.
At the end of my day, as I sit here on my couch at 9:30 pm, my phone randomly began to play music. OK, I put it under my arm while I carried other things up my stairs, so it surely wasn’t random. But for some bizarre reason, my phone started a playlist of my favorite tunes. I’ve been sitting here, listening to meaningful lyrics about loss and love and God’s faithfulness, and I have no idea how these days will unfold. But if He gives me any kind of opportunity going forward like the seemingly random ones He gave me today, for the reminder of my time at home (likely no less than two weeks), I can share something beautiful, something practical, and something helpful—while being responsibly physically distant—with my neighbors and my family.
In the coming days, I’m going to make Spotify playlists that I’ll post on my Facebook page. They will consist of songs of hope, songs of thoughtfulness, and songs of faith in the God who somehow sees us through these VERY odd times. I hope you’ll listen to these playlists and approach these days with the knowledge that while we feel untethered, God is somehow grounding us in His faithfulness, and in His first-hand knowledge of our suffering, through the life of His Son. I’m going to pray more, I’m going to lean into my Lenten sacrifices, and I’m going to watch for the blooming flowers and the fresh air of spring, because God knows, those constants are like a sweet cool breeze on our faces. Let me know if I can drop anything off on your porch, or sing a song on a video that would make your heart happy.
I can’t wait to see your faces in those virtual spaces.
Peace and love to you all.