How is Your Life?

Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.

I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer — warm —
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?

It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom—
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.

~Jane Hirschfield “Today When I Could Do Nothing”

Nine months into social distancing one from another, with COVID spreading wider and faster than ever, I feel helpless to be a helper without the virus becoming a potentially deadly attachment to my efforts.

So I look for little ways to try to make a difference, as inadequate as they seem. I can no serve meals after evening church service. I can’t visit vulnerable people in their homes so have to be satisfied with screen visits. I can’t go where I wish when I wish because, by definition of age and medical risk, I am one of the vulnerable too.

So I look for words to express that may bring you a smile or maybe a knowing tear. I look for images to share that remind you of something from your past experience. I look for ways to make sense of the senseless when there can be so much disagreement and anger and bitterness. I look for where our common ground exists: how can we deepen and broaden our connection to one another in this time of painful and empty separation?

I want to ask and I want to hear: how is your life?

When we feel we can do nothing, we can do this: rescuing one another from isolation and loneliness. It will be the most important thing we do today.

Please tell me how you are.

19 thoughts on “How is Your Life?

  1. I am well. My husband is not. I care for him full-time since I retired from my pediatric office practice in July 2019. I feel isolated. I dread upcoming holidays because I will feel the isolation more acutely. Maybe I am not so well after all. But keeping the faith. Your blog is a daily lift. Thanks, Susan

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am well considering I am recovering from COVID myself. I’m sure I got it working 14 hours as a nurse in the COVID unit. I then brought it home to my husband. After 3 weeks we are well enough to go back to work but I am reduced to a toddler needing daily naps just to get through my days. Thankfully my daughter, son-in-law & my 4 granddaughters were spared which is remarkable since I saw them everyday up to the day I had my test. It’s a lonely place to be. You can’t understand it unless you’ve lived through it. The Lord has been gracious & I always look forward to your lovely poetry, pictures, & wisdom. Thank you for being a bright spot in my day! May the good Lord keep you & your family safe & healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is well with my soul, my friend. Jesus …, eyes fixed on Him …, abiding with Him. All will be well. ♥️ Psalm 56:3-4; 103:19; 118:8 Colossians 1:27; 3:1-4 Hebrews 12:1-3 Jude 1:24-25 Rev 22:12-21

    Karen xo

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes. My thoughts are where your thoughts are.
    Eight months of talking with my dad.
    Listening to his frustrations and problems via a phone call to be solved from afar.
    I think to myself.
    I can’t do this anymore.
    People aren’t reaching out anymore.
    I was doing a lot of that, but doing less and less.
    My nephew talks about virus fatigue.
    Another relative dies…not from COVID, but dementia and other ssues.
    Physical death all around. Emotional distress within.
    Linda …just plain weary of the great divide in all aspects of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Susan, I think of you often and appreciate your update. Will continue to pray for you both during during this challenging time and hope you know there is a {{hug}} coming from the farm here. Emily


  6. Dear Denise, so sorry you have had to experience this suffering first hand in your commitment to serve others. Thank you for your willingness to go back to work though you aren’t back to yourself. Sending {{hugs}} to you!


  7. Dear Linda, sometimes it feels like all we can plan for is this day and only this day, sometimes this hour and only this hour, then tomorrow it will be this day and only this day. Small steps, small tasks, but really huge feelings that can be overwhelming. I have learned how much you care about those you love from what you share. Loving people as you do is reason enough to keep doing what you do today and tomorrow even when it hurts and even when you are empty. You will be filled once again. Hoping your strength and energy will be renewed by knowing how crucial you are to those you love. {{hugs}} to you today and always. Keep writing! Emily


  8. I am up and down and seeing the hand of God in our lives and family. John is holding his own. Started care giver services mon-Thurs 10-4, Fri. 10-2 a week ago. We are working well together in the learning curve. Realized I was anxious for the weekend with no help coverage so had an appt with Visiting Angels scheduler and she’s working on 12 hr coverage daily . I have prayed that God send the wisdom for the resources we need. VA is providing 28 hrs a week aide assistance, now we are looking at 30 days of respite and 27 under long term care.See what happens when you ask the question? Thank you Em for your caring, prayers and words of wisdom, Love you and thanks for the Barnstorming family. Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy, so relieved you and John have help now. I hope you can have some outdoor walks and good naps! Love you, and I know you are gifted with God’s grace and strength for this time in your lives. Thank you for updating where things are for you both. Sending hugs to you! Emily


  10. Thank you for asking. I’m in a place I thought I would never be in. I’m selling my house to be closer to my sister who lives in SC. I live in GA. I am feeling overwhelming anxiety about this decision. Very few people have seen it. I have made many improvements to house but has made no difference. The anxiety is so high it makes it difficult to even function as a human such as going to church. So I feel stuck in this fog of not knowing what will happen or if it will even sell. So the decision to move was a logical and easy one but it has had profound effects on my life in the state of my mind and I’m in my health..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tenuous, scared, alone. But then free, being more introspective and decisive. Knowing God isnt ever far . The choice to reach out, even when no one else does. To stay safe in my home and listion to church. When others didnt and got sick. Hard brave learning experiences I never expected, but who did. I’m surviving and learning. Some times sad. But hopeful still.


  12. Dear Doctor and Sister-in-Christ (Sorry I don’t remember your given name just now but GOD KNOWS YOU! Hallelujah!)

    Thank you for your daily posts. I love the pictures and the narratives about you and your family activities on the farm. What you write is an important highlight of my day.

    I have been a widow for almost five years and I live alone. The isolation caused by the coronavirus has been excruciating at times but I have many reasons to be thankful.

    M y sister has begun calling me every day to chat and that has made a huge difference. A year ago she came from Florida to be with me in western New York for my mastectomy surgery. She stayed three weeks. This year it would have been much more difficult for her to travel. Thankfully, I have recovered well from surgery. This summer several neighbors gathered at my pond—socially distanced, of course—to watch their children swim so I was able to have some in-person conversations.

    God has provided for all of my needs. He even gave me a special friendship with a man I have known for a while from church. Mark lives about half of the year in Washington, DC. I am thankful for email and Zoom and streaming of church services and Barnstorming!



  13. Oh, wow, Emily, you got quite a response!
    My heart aches for everyone who is suffering, a few of whom wrote to you with their struggles of their own health, or that of loved ones. And the anxiety! Even the strong ones falter.
    I agree with everyone who wrote their gratitude for your posts.
    I try to reach out to at least one person a day.
    As I mentioned before, our greatest therapy in a physical sense is living on a 40-acre farm with the concomitant responsibilities. But what has helped the most has been my faith life. In a newsletter from a small monastery I came across a paragraph that so aptly described my own experience since March. The writer was referring to Great Lent, but it’s actually true of all these months: “…especially quiet and secluded… with much time for solitude and prayer….a blessed time for interior life…time for prayer, writing, thinking, reading, and more prayer.”

    Liked by 1 person

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