Wandering Thoughts on the Road
A couple of weeks ago, I took a break from work to ride along with Jeff as he picked up and delivered loads across the Midwest. The world looks a little different from that perspective. (The floorboard of the truck is about eye level for me when I start to climb in.) I enjoyed the beauty in the Flint Hills, wooded areas of Oklahoma and Arkansas, farmland and small town in Texas and Nebraska. As we rolled past empty sports fields, silent schools, shuttered businesses, and little highway traffic, I had plenty of time to ponder this current environment created by the pandemic.
I thought about so many different responses to the situation
· partying college students without a care in the world
· struggling parents balancing work and their children’s education needs
· worried immune-compromised friends
· protesters eager to open the economy
· essential workers without adequate PPE
· individuals trying to figure out how to survive their grief without the hugs of family and friends
· people so desperate they would drink household cleaners to avoid getting sick
· creativity exploding in ways to stay connected and to share music and love
· sewing machines humming along making masks and whiskey barrels pouring out sanitizer
There is a lot of time to ponder when your spouse is driving over 2,700 miles that week. I began to wonder about the reasons individual responses were so different. The agency I work for encourages trauma-informed practices from the Sanctuary Model®. One of those, which is present in most trauma-informed models, is replacing judgement with curiosity. I have to confess that during this pandemic, there are times I have jumped to judgement: “What is wrong with him?” “How stupid to try that!” “Why can’t they be more logical?” It was refreshing to have the time to wonder about the life experiences of the individuals who were doing things that seemed risky, thoughtless, self-centered, or stupid to me. What led them to make different decisions that I would?
It also gave me time to reflect on why I make the decisions I do, especially regarding how to move through this time when everything has been changing. I am grateful for a mother who taught me to be considerate of others, not taking up more than I needed so my neighbor or a stranger would have space or food or toilet paper. I am grateful for junior high teachers who, in teaching the constitution, asked us to think critically about where one person’s rights might impinge on another person’s rights. My right to pursue of happiness should not impose on another’s right to life. I am grateful for my childhood faith community that taught me compassion and the value of all people as beloved of God – even the ones I sometimes label as wrong or stupid.
I don’t know who had experiences like mine and whether their experiences helped them develop resilience or left unhealed wounds. I don’t know whose childhood was filled with fear or hunger or examples of greed and meanness. I don’t know whose fear exceed their ability to manage strong emotions and fully engage the problem-solving, creative, critical thinking part of their brain. I don’t know whose sorrow keeps sucking them into the whirlpool or darkness or whose insecurity drives them to do selfish things. I don’t know what grace each person has embraced or squandered.
I do know that I’m grateful to be part of the faith community at Saint Andrew that is committed to seeking God, creating community and practicing justice – even during pandemics when we are physically separate. I’m glad we are riding this storm out together.
God of us all, may we celebrate the sacrifice and creativity and generosity we witness. May we offer the same grace we have received to those whose life journey has led them to different, sometimes harmful decisions. May we inspire and support the goodness in each other and drive out the darkness of fear and despair with your light.
Lesa Chandler is the Training Director at Cornerstones of Care, a non-profit providing children and family services in Kansas, Missouri, and beyond. She feels honored to serve as a Youth Sponsor at SACC. She and Jeff have been married for 27 years and find sharing about 70 square feet inside a truck totally doable a week at a time!