Humanity: Maintenance Required

Driving down the highway this weekend, Maintenance Required appeared on the dash. My first reaction wasn’t “what’s wrong with the car?” It was “Yes, that’s exactly right, maintenance IS required right now,” as despicable incidents in the U.S. pierced my mind like shards of glass.

I recalled a passage from the book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From The Sea, where the author mentions the German term Zerrissenheit, meaning ‘torn-to-pieces-hood,’ and how a person “cannot live perpetually in such a state, or they “will be shattered into a thousand pieces.” I reflected on how my own mental and emotional state has mirrored this very feeling recently, and how, too, it deftly describes the current state of our Nation: Torn. Shattered.

Social injustice, police brutality, polarizing politics, social distancing, to COVID mask or not to mask? Lately, the United States of America feels more like the Divided States of America with its rigid boxes we are putting each other into. We have veered off the path of kindness and equality sharply, tarnishing the Golden Rule and our global reputation.

Shame on us. We live in the land of opportunity. Let’s take a stand, act, vote, educate ourselves on history and diversity issues, and speak out. Black Lives Matter. YES, absolutely! All lives matter. Our country matters, as does our children’s future. We are all one, living under the same sky. May we choose to see SOULS, not skin color. May we choose to see a PERSON, not their sexual orientation.

We are all HUMAN. Our hearts beat with the same blood. Our tears do not differentiate my pain and grief from yours; my fears, joys, and hopes from yours.

My husband and I have had the distinct advantage of raising our son in Africa, Egypt, and Central America, where he is immersed in foreign languages, different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. At the tender age of eight, Ramsay understands there is an abundance of wonderful people, places, and ideas beyond America’s borders, and that not everyone has the freedoms, rights and blessings we are given. I wish I could gift every American the chance to live abroad to gain a wider perspective.

Relatives and friends can attest to Ramsay’s early self-portraits being drawn as a black person. We never corrected him. Why would we? I love it when he encounters any child, his desire is knowing what they can build together- Legos? Forts? Sand Castles? When we travel to areas where there is less diversity, he rightly inquires, “Mama, where are the brown people here?”

“We would be wise to take more of our cues from beasts and babies.”Jen Sincero

The younger generations give me hope. May we learn from them and approach one another like children, greeting others with love in our hearts and a smile on our lips, without judgment, prejudice, or malice.

I hear the catchphrase “we’re all in this together,” frequently in the news, but if each of stops to let that sink in, it’s true. We are. Our actions and choices affect others, period: as individuals, as nations, as citizens of the world. When we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. We can do better. Let’s leave a better legacy.

Prayers for healing, and restoring this Nation to a place where every citizen feels valued, safe, and respected.

Peace and Light,

Tracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savoring the Small Things During the Pandemic

“It was the small things that helped, taken one by one and savored.” -British Writer Rumer Godden

Hello. When media referred to 2020 as the new roaring twenties, I don’t think any of us expected a decade full of promise to unfold like this.

We’ve come together as a global community, and yet, we are in isolation; individual trees standing in a forest, bracing ourselves on a tidal wave of fear, flux, and uncertainty. There are victories, of course, and countless heroes to hail, but losses, anxiety, and frustration, too. As a Steel Magnolia southern gal who is good at holding it together, I did. Until I didn’t.

My COVID-19  journey began in Panama when Honduras shuttered itself on short notice. Overnight, exiled from my life. Air, sea, and land borders closed; no loophole, no way back- to my child, my husband, my dog, my house. In disbelief, I bought a one-way ticket to the States, praying for the world, praying for this to be over. What was happening? No one really knew. “It’s unprecedented,” I kept hearing in a sea of disturbing news about lack of ventilators, bankruptcies, and death statistics, like a bad science fiction film.

In a sundress and flip-flop clad feet, I landed woefully unprepared onto Atlanta soil that was cold and rainy. Hartsfield International Airport, one of the busiest in the world, was apocalyptic; tomb-like, except for officials wearing masks and gloves, urging us to social distance and move rapidly. Passport control and baggage claim took an uncanny eighteen minutes.

Phone calls were made to friends and family who, ultimately, could not take me in, could not hug me when I desperately needed it most. I understood but was lost and floating. This was not like coming home. Unprecedented, indeed.

I am forever grateful to dear friends who risked their health to welcome me into their house, providing me with warm clothes, a homemade meal, a place to sleep. For days, cracked and frazzled, I fell apart, letting the tears flow freely. I gave myself permission to not be strong, to not be okay, to surrender to a situation that was never in my control anyway.

Pacing like a wolf, irrationally pondering what laws I could break to get back to my family, I could not sleep, could not concentrate, or get my bearings. After ten days of conversations about Ramsay maybe flying alone, emergency flights that were canceled, and what to do with the dog, a C-130 aircraft got out of Honduras, thanks to effortful coordination by our Embassy community.

I helped Brad and Ramsay pack over the phone the night before. Just knowing my clothes were nestled next to theirs in a shared suitcase made me happier somehow. Brad texted just before take-off: “Engines turning. Doors closed. En route to Norfolk!”  And then, hours later, “Just landed. Everyone cheered. Grateful Crowd.”

After two more connecting flights for them, I fell to my knees at the small, local airport as I held my child, sobbing, and hugged my husband, wanting to tie them to my body to keep them close. A Fort Benning soldier watching us put a hand to his heart and smiled through his tears. Ramsay excitedly told me about the military flight. “We sat on those things, like backpack strings- they were seats! And to get on, the whole back of the plane opened up and it was so wide, I bet four cars could park in there!” 

I woke up in the night and saw them both sleeping there. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. I wrote in my journal later,  “it’s like they were teetering on a tight rope, dangling, and I was holding my breath. Now they’re here. Thank you, God. I’ve never been happier to look for frogs at the crack of dawn than with Rams this morning.”

Shaken up, we focused on being together, safe, and healthy, not taking it for granted, as Brad would have to return. We crafted a temporary plan. Like so many families, we are now learning to adapt to living apart in two countries. We are learning the ropes for online school, discovering what works in quarantine and doesn’t, trusting our own wisdom amid constantly changing dynamics. We attempt to be kinder and more patient with ourselves and others, remembering that each day is a gift.  One never knows what twists and turns are up ahead.

After several weeks, our hearts and bodies are slowly healing with rest, healthy eating,  and embracing the positives. We are more careful and conscious of the information we absorb. And the silver lining is that we are:

  • living more in the present
  • practicing gratitude in earnest
  • enjoying quality time with my mother
  • reading more books
  • sitting on the porch, slowing down and not glorifying “being busy”
  • playing more board games
  • finding reasons to laugh
  • taking more walks, bike rides, and online yoga classes
  • making more art
  • observing the beauty of Spring and savoring the small things

“On the other side of your fear is your freedom.”- American writer Jen Sincero

What are your coping tools and strategies on this unprecedented journey?

Sending you peace, along with prayers for health and well-being.

Tracy