Quarantine Day 42. NYC
There’s a new feeling in the air these days. One that is sweeping through households and generations with reckless abandon these days as we’re all confined to our homes in a quarantine that, for those outside of NYC/NJ and other intense hotspots, is beginning to seem excessive, and an overexertion of restriction on our freedom.
That feeling we’re grappling with, is restlessness.
We’re all staring out our windows at the blooming tulips and bright blue skies, and just itching to get out there and start living again.
For the majority of the country, aside from NYC where I live, the total disruption of our lives and economy in response to the coronavirus, now seems like it could have been overkill. “The boogey man took residence elsewhere – not in our communities. Not in our circles. It’s confined to what we see on the news, and that’s about it.”
It’s up for debate, but many are feeling like they are sacrificing their lives and livelihood for a statistical model that predicted a worst case that never materialized.
And as a result, we’re getting restless.
The masks. The social distancing. The restrictions on our comings and goings — cancelation of church, suspension of school, closing of restaurants and retail, halting of jobs, calling off vacations, weddings, ceremonies.
We’ve grown restless. And we’re fed up.
I was talking to my mom about this today. How, people are just flooding parks and walking trails, grasping for any tiny bit of freedom and connection with others during this time of quarantine and isolation.
She’s seeing it in herself, and I’m seeing it in me, too. That desperation for connection and normalcy.
We’ve reached the end of our rope.
After our phone call, I was praying about how to write about this today. Asking the Holy Spirit to move in my heart, and give me the words to calm a restless heart, and what kept coming to mind was Psalm 23 — one of the most well known, and well loved scriptures in the Bible.
The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures He makes me lie down; to still waters He leads me;
He restores my soul.
And to be honest, I resisted writing about this. It was so overplayed. So eye-rollingly simple and cliched. It seemed almost insulting to respond to our hearts aching with restlessness, with little old Psalm 23. It’s what grandmothers needlepoint on throwpillows…not how one responds to a pandemic.
But the more I resisted, the harder it kept pressing into my mind. So I decided to just start writing. And here’s what I got:
Right now, we are in a once-in-a-lifetime situation. Truly. There will, God willing, probably never be another global shutdown like there is right now. A world-wide pause. A collective halt that we are forced to comply with.
Is our restlessness warranted? Yes. Absolutely. Are we justified for wanting to return to our fast paced life, and get back to the movin’ and shakin’ we’ve grown accustomed to? Of course.
But in thinking about that time pre-quarantine, and really reflecting on it…how many times was I truly exhausted?
So often I would find my heart weary, having let it become too familiar with bad habits, or grueling schedules, that by the end of the day my soul would be like a deflated balloon.
This is such a unique time that God has given us. He is making us lie down in this green pasture. A green pasture that that might not match the image that comes to mind when we envision this cliched passage. Perhaps we may even think we’re currently in more of a desert right now than a green pasture.
But He is our Shepherd and is providing for us exactly what we need.
The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I lack.
And I’m even willing to bet that when we hear “there is nothing I lack” – we scoff a bit, and think…how about, being able to see my friends, having that paycheck this month, going on my cancelled vacation, etc.”
But at the end of the day, are we truly lacking anything? We’ve got food, we’ve got shelter. We’ve got connection — even if virtually — with loved ones.
This is the green pasture that God has led us to.
And the greenery we have available to us is Him.
He is our sustenance right now.
I think, at least for me, before all of this, I was finding my sustenance elsewhere: in my social life, in what I could achieve career wise, in cute clothes, and a constant stream of superficial securities that just flat out don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
We have been brought to a green pasture to feed on that which truly restores our soul, just like He promised He would do.
We have come to the still water, and it turns out that “still” can be difficult. “Still” can be hard for those addicted to action. It sure is for me.
But perhaps, this times of forced stillness and pause is exactly what we need.
We’re finally realizing that we’re starving. And it is my prayer that we can all come to recognize that there’s only one true sustenance.
And lucky for us, that’s what’s available in the green pasture in which we find ourselves this very moment.
I don’t know if that solves our restlessness. But perhaps we are to remember that this season will not last forever. And I think we need to look around and realize that the Good Shepherd has led us to this particular pasture for a reason. The pasture where we are to fill up on His love, His mercy, His peace, grace, and abounding comfort — and drink in His stillness.
Because when else have we ever had this privilege of time and ability to do so?
Restless? Nah – it is an opportunity for restoration of soul.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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