Efforts and Offerings

In 2018, I wrote about making offerings. This morning I looked at my list of possible topics for this week’s post, but realized none of them really grab me at the moment; I’ve been thinking again about making offerings.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

The reason offerings are in my mind is because I’m struggling, like so many of us, to find new routines and priorities without expiring from boredom, losing my mind, or allowing futility to paralyze me. It occurred to me, as I did my daily wipe down of our kitchen with bleach wipes while the bacon was cooking this morning, to think about what seems like endless disinfecting as an offering, or perhaps even a prayer, for my loved ones and for all of us on the planet.

As I go about my days, fear for my loved ones, near and far, dogs me. I know it’s not useful. I know watching what’s happening in Montana, Colorado and New York, as well as here in Maine, is not helping them. But what do we do with our love for others, near and far, during times like these?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who already feels that they never want to clean, wipe or disinfect anything ever again. I’m sure I’m not the only one marveling at how many thousands of things we touch a day (including ourselves) and feeling overwhelmed with trying to avoid this tiny, invisible, persistent, deadly virus.

While I cleaned the counters with the smell of bleach in my nose, while I rubbed away at the fridge, the freezer, the washing machine, the microwave, the toaster oven, the coffeepot and the teakettle, I imagined millions of people all over the world at home, at work, in hospitals, in businesses, doing the same thing, day after day. I imagined all of those people with fearful and heavy hearts for their loved ones, doing their best, taking whatever steps they can for themselves and those around them, day after day.

Later, after breakfast, I disinfected surfaces in the bathroom, another new daily chore. Then I came up to my attic aerie and here, too, I will wipe down every surface I can with bleach wipes before I go to work.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

At work, though only staff have used the pool for the last couple of weeks, I will don gloves and pitch in to do our daily disinfecting of chairs, benches, handles and knobs, light switches, soap and hand sanitizer dispensers, keyboards, telephones, counters, desks, chairs, fans, remote controls, pens, handicapped door buttons . . . We did that yesterday. We’ll do it today. It will be done tomorrow.

Is there any point? Is it helping? Will it keep us and those around us well?

So many questions, and no answers.

I know some people can shrug and say whatever will be will be. I recognize the truth in that, but I can’t not try. I must do what I can, even with no guarantee it’s useful, even without support from others (emotional labor, anyone?), even though I myself sometimes wonder why I’m working so hard. It’s simply what I can do.

And I’m not alone. There are people in Montana, New York and Colorado, people just like me, perhaps with loved ones in Maine (!), who are making their best effort, dogged, determined, and putting one foot in front of another. Or perhaps I should say disinfecting one thing after another, washing their hands, and social distancing. They undoubtedly are asking the same questions: Is there any point? Is it helping? Will it keep us and those around us well?

So, today, as my choice is to once again disinfect surfaces here at home and this afternoon at work, wash my hands over and over again, and social distance from my partner, my friends, my colleagues and strangers, I’m allowing myself to dwell on my loved ones as I disinfect and wash and distance, to remember their faces; to pray for their safety and health; to love them as hard as I want to; to cry, even.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Perhaps even in the moment I’m washing my hands in Maine someone in Montana is washing hers, thereby sparing my asthmatic adult son. Perhaps in the moment I’m social distancing in the line in the grocery store, another person is staying six feet away from someone I love in Colorado.

Let my fear be an offering, and my tears. Let my work be an offering. Let my chapped hands and the smell of bleach and disinfectant be an offering. Let my love, my reverence for the cycles of life and death, my faith and my hope be an offering. Let my self-care be an offering. Let my willingness to do whatever it takes be an offering.

May you and your loved ones be well.

Disinfecting surfaces. Washing my hands. Social distancing. My daily crimes.

Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash

© 2020, Jenny Rose. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Efforts and Offerings

  1. Dawn Katz

    Hi Jenny,
    This was a wonderful post, full of the emotions we are all feeling at this time. I feel the exact same way! I also feel like I have compartmentalized the virus pandemic, because if I look too closely at it, I will fall apart at the thought of what I could lose, who I could lose… It scares me to death! If I busy myself with disinfecting everything, maybe it will not give me any time to worry about what this virus could cost me on an emotional level. I couldn’t bear to lose someone I love from this virus! So, I will continue to disinfect and deflect, to get me through yet another long and tedious day. Stay well and take good care of yourself & your special partner!

    Reply
    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Thanks, Dawn. I wish none of us had to go through this, but there is some comfort in knowing I am not alone. It’s not that I think we won’t get through it–of course this will pass. But we are losing a lot of people, and I’m finding it a slog just to get through the long and tedious days, as you put it. It’s hard to live with so much fear and tension and all the unknowns. You take care, too. I’ll wash my hands for you if you’ll wash yours for me! I appreciate you.

      Reply
  2. Susan McLeod

    Part of my family lives in Seattle, so you can imagine how much worry I’ve emitted these past few weeks. This post will help me think of my responsibilities in a new light. Good post — thank you. [raises a container of Lysol wipes in toast!]

    Reply
    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Love the toast, Susan! Back at you. I have family in NYC, so I understand your feelings. Take good care of yourself. That’s where your power is. Be well.

      Reply

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