When this pandemic began to limit our movement, I gathered groceries and stay at home supplies. I felt determined I would be of good cheer and spirit, honoring the request of my host country’s government. I am sure like many of you, I never anticipated this would go on for more than two months! Somewhere along the way, I began to describe my quarantine days like the 1993 movie, Ground Hog Day caught in an endless loop. I was starting to feel weary of traveling from my living room, to the kitchen, to the computer. Honestly, I was bordering on feeling sorry for myself. I thank God for opening my eyes and heart to a new understanding of community.
I am learning a lot about online teaching. I am enjoying it, but I can assure you being in the classroom is a lot easier. Managing children online is humbling, amusing and some days downright funny. One of the funniest moments was realizing our 6-9 years old know how to unmute themselves. Trust me Zoom may as well not have a mute button. Young children want to be heard and they don’t have the social graces or understanding that it’s impolite to unmute yourself because the teacher is trying to create a quiet space for learning. So, I mute, they unmute, I mute, they unmute…. shall I say more!
One sunny afternoon I was lured onto my balcony by a neighbor playing music that filled the courtyard. I still can’t tell you what language, but it was very nice and created an environment of community. Many of my neighbors came outside to stand and chat on their balconies too. I could hear many accents and different languages being spoken because my building is home for many international students from around the world.
Listening to the music, I felt inspired to plant a recently purchased flat of flowers in my flower-boxes. I was busy planting and discovered I need a screwdriver. Well one neighbor and his wife were sitting watching me and they spoke to me in English! We share our names and they loaned me a screwdriver. Later in the early evening, I was pleasantly greeted by another who said to me, “I love your balcony. It’s beautiful”.
The balcony has become a sweet place for solitude. One of the greatest gifts of the pandemic for me is the gift of stillness. Daily, I am learning to find good aspects of life amidst the unwanted, without denying the presence of difficult realities. I am encouraged by Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I have enjoyed a sweeter time of fellowship with Lord in the morning sitting on the balcony. I have appreciated the ability to linger in reading, reflecting and relaxing in the presence.