Free from anger

Daily Devotion - May 14

I will send a brief message each day (except Mondays)
while we are pausing gathering in person.
- Kara

Last night our state governor said the shelter-in-place order will expire May 18.  When it does, we should still mostly stay home. If we must gather, it should be in groups of no more than ten.  Last night the Supreme Court of WI struck down the stay home order the governor there had in place. The bars were packed.

People are so eager to be done with this. I am eager to be done with this. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for many of us. (For a lucky some of us, it is getting easier, you've found rhythms and aren't minding it so much right now).

Nothing has changed about the virus. 

Here is what has changed:

-  We now know it is far more contagious than we realized.
- We now know it does far more damage to the body than first thought - some of it lasting.  
- We now know it can affect not just older people, but everyone, in unexpected ways.
- The virus is now more widespread than it was when we started staying home, and Minnesota has not reached its peak.
- We now have more ICU beds available. We also have more storage available for the corpses.
- We know it spreads more indoors, in close proximity.  We know it spreads through not just droplets from sneezing or coughing, but in the the aerosol that lingers 8 plus minutes in the air when we talk or sing.
- Being outdoors is better. Wearing masks helps. Social distancing is essential.

Here is what else has changed:

- We've been pent up in our own homes away from each other for nearly 10 weeks.  We are craving human contact, needing connection, more than ever in my lifetime.
- Finances are more and more affected the longer this goes on, and the picture keeps getting bleaker.
- We want our regular lives back.  We want to feel like things are normal.  We have hit "caution fatigue" and feel the urgency less than we did before.  It's tempting to pretend it's all better now. We so badly want it to be all better now.
- We can't do this forever. AND we can't do what we used to do.

People are tired, angry, frustrated.  Some don't want to be told to stay home or wear masks. Some are furious at those who refuse to stay home and wear masks. Every little decision feels fraught - where to go or not go, how to pass this person on the sidewalk, what to wipe down, when to wear a mask, how to greet a person, and on and on.

We are now entering the vague days where people's decisions will conflict. We won't all agree about what we should do or not do. Families will make different choices than each other. Members of families will make different choices than each other. We will have to tell our kids why our decisions are not the same as our neighbors'. We are all in this together, but we are not in agreement.  It feels more vulnerable and frightening when not everybody is dealing with things the same way - someone else's behavior puts your well-being at risk; your choices could put someone else's health or life at risk.

The stakes are high and our patience is low.

I can see it in the drivers.  The roads feel edgier, riskier, fellow motorists more reckless.  I can see it in the lines - people questioning security guards, Why does this store have rules and that one doesn't?  Why must we be expected to wait so long?  I can see it in myself, can feel the quickness to anger - Why won't that person move when they see someone coming?  Why aren't they wearing a mask? Why would they hold that event? Why would they make that choice? 

We are finding our way back into our grooves of division.  Us against them.  Right and wrong. Bad and good. Vitriol and anger feel more powerful than fear and helplessness.  Judgment feels like action. It feels like doing something productive. Registering disapproval feels like a mandate and a right.  We are forgetting we belong to each other.

But I don't want to feel angry all the time. 

It's hard enough to make these calls for ourselves - let alone making them for a whole society, or even that one other person over there.  
I want to be free. Free of judgment. Free of fear. I want to free up space in my mind and heart.  I want to free up my perspective to look for things that are deep and true, like love and hope.
I want to free up my energy for things that bring joy.

So, today I'm returning again to the serenity prayer:

Lord, grant me the serenity...

(God, give me the stillness, poise, quietude, the inner calm) 

to accept the things I cannot change...
(radical acceptance, please. I want to not resist the anxiety but go with it into whatever newness it wants to bring in me. Help me to accept the leadership of the experts, to accept the wisdom of the group, to accept the limitations of reality, to accept choices put before me and the path in front of me this day.)

the courage (courage!!!) to change the things I can... 
(which is what? Not that other person's mask-wearing/social distancing/group-gathering/anger/misleading... It's only me. I can only change me.  
Can I change my response to their behavior? Can I change the hold it has on me? Can I change my own self-judgment?  Can I begin with compassion for me and those around me? I don't know, but I can try. I can want to change, and that's a start.)

and the wisdom to know the difference.
(How much energy am I wasting on things I have no power over? How much effort am I directing at resisting the reality I am living in?  And what am I overlooking that I do have power over?  What invitations are in front of me that I am missing right now?

What do you return to to sustain you or remind you?

What returns you to your belonging to God and each other?


Perhaps tonight before bed, whatever time that is in each of our homes, we might pray this and so join our souls with each other:

God, grant me peace.

God, grant me rest.
Hold those I love.
Hold those who grieve.
Hold the weary and the frightened.
Hold the angry and the tired.
Hold us all, Lord.
Hold us in your love this night.


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