I plucked flowers from my garden, this month of January, and formed a bouquet with the blooms.
Warm temperatures had fooled the foliage into blossoming although the plants should have shut down for the winter.
What delight the bouquet brought to a few family members who graced our backyard for outside visits. What delight the bouquet brought to me as I leaned into the seclusion that seemed to go on endlessly.
Unlike the flowers in my garden, blossoming during this Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for me.
Recently, my daughter shared some encouragement after I’d complained, “This pandemic seems to take away my hope with continual bad news. There’s a glimmer of optimism with new vaccines announced, and then reports of Covid-19 variants that might be resistant to the vaccines wipe it all away. This reminds me of that proverb, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
“Mom,” your faith is so strong but maybe God is using this pandemic to do a deeper work in you. I thought of you when I heard this scripture my pastor shared during his online message: Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1: 2-4).”
I immediately knew that part of this deeper work was learning how to lean into seclusion; to press into those hard days when staying at home felt more like house arrest than a gift of time.
For me, leaning in to seclusion meant facing the discomfort, not running from it anymore, surrendering. To trust God even when I felt miserable inside. To turn to the Lord, express my loneliness, and admit that I couldn’t do it by myself. Just sitting in the uncomfortableness of situations I couldn’t change…situations I was powerless to change.
Leaning in meant:
- weaning myself off of activities I once enjoyed like traveling with my husband and eating in restaurants.
- resisting those long, luxurious snuggles with grandchildren and movie nights spent sitting side-by-side munching popcorn.
- sitting outside with family and friends instead of inside just in case one of us has been infected.
- accepting occasional visits with an ever shrinking number of loved ones.
I also knew that part of this deeper work God was doing in me was to produce patience. During the first stay-at-home order in March of 2020, I naively thought that the pandemic would end after the lockdown lifted. That was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve tried to fight it, wrestling with despair until it whooped me good and I surrendered to uncertainty.
James 5: 8 exhorts “…be patient, establish your hearts.” The NIV version reads “stand firm,” the NAS is “strengthen your hearts,” and the Amplified is “…keep them energized and firmly committed to God.”
So, today I thought I’d “energize my heart” by recounting the gifts seclusion has brought to me. I wrote down all of the creative projects I’d undertaken over the past 11 months. New beginnings I probably wouldn’t have attempted had life not pushed the pause button:
- Precious FaceTime sessions with my children, grandchildren, and other family members.
- The start up of a new business, Luna Arts & Ed.
The development of my YouTube Channel, JoDee Luna.
The creation of a Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Luna Arts and Ed, that features creative teaching resources for educators doing online instruction.
Learning how to do whiteboard animation: Similes and Metaphors Preview Video:
Learning how to design graphics for an Educational Consulting Company, using Adobe Illustrator.
As I sought to “lean into seclusion,” the desire to try oil painting resulted in, “Awaiting Spring.” Awaiting Spring visualizes my search for hope as I wait for this seemingly unending Covid-19 pandemic to end.
I also created a mixed media using oil paints titled, “Welcome Home,” as a tribute to immigrants.
Recounting the blessings seclusion has brought helped shift my perspective. Instead doom and gloom, each day now stretches out with endless possibilities.