Month: April 2022

Easter – Rebirth

For those of us who follow the Gregorian calendar, Easter was three days ago. In my faith tradition we gathered early in the park for a “sunrise” service, then met again in the sanctuary of our church, to give thanks for the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was a joyous time. A time that rang with hallelujah’s. A time for hugs and smiles and gratitude. Even our lousy weather was greeted with a wry smile. We saw rebirth all around us–the daffodils in the fields, the robin on a branch, the silver lining on a storm cloud. Easter – holy day and holiday.

For the people of the Ukraine, who follow the Julian calendar, Easter is four days from now. As I watch the horrors shown on television news night after night, I cannot help but wonder how they can celebrate Easter this year.  Then I saw a priest in a bombed church, sorrow etched deep on his face. Yet his answer to the reporter was “Jesus forgave. How can I not forgive?” Last night I listened to an old woman from one of the recently occupied Ukrainian towns speak of meeting a Russian soldier. Even though the bodies of her slain countrymen lay in the street around her, she had taken pity on the young soldier and gave him food. 

With a humbled and aching heart, I pray for the people of Ukraine — and their oppressors. There will be no peace in the world until the bullies and aggressors turn their hearts and minds toward love of their fellowmen. The pope has called for an Easter “pause” this weekend to let peace talks go ahead. I am not a Roman Catholic but I fervently echo his plea. 

As the natural world welcomes rebirth in the spring, may humanity welcome a rekindling of compassion and a deep desire to live at peace with our neighbours.           

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Exiting the Cave

This week I took a 20 minute drive and a 35 minute ferry ride to meet up with an old writing friend for lunch. That was it, a total of 55 minutes from my house and it felt like a daring adventure. Just shows what being stuck at home can do to a person. I’ve always considered myself adventurous but after two full years of pandemic “being careful” I’m developing hints of agoraphobia. When I shared that bit of humiliation with my friend she admitted to similar feelings.

Apparently we are not alone in our nervousness. There is even a new acronym for the condition, FOGO or FONO. It means fear of going out or fear of normal. The human brain doesn’t like change, a trait left over from our evolution. We don’t like change, even good change. We want to be in control and change means we’re not. The world we used to know, pre-pandemic, is now the unknown and it scares us.

Since we were in confessional mode my friend and I discovered that both of us had been “stuck” in the writing process. We both have story ideas. We’ve both written and re-written and re-written the opening a dozen times. We’ve tried skipping ahead and writing pivotal scenes. We’ve even tried writing the ending — with no success. I found it interesting that we’d been travelling the same path without ever comparing notes. Maybe we are part of a wider writer-response to the pandemic.

If we are, we are in good company. I read over the weekend that Anne Tyler, the highly successful author of 23 novels, hasn’t been able to start a new book in the past three years. To her surprise she has missed the stimulation of eavesdropping!

Eavesdropping has a nasty connotation but in the context of an author it is merely adding grist to the imagination. Overheard snippets of conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store may spark a whole new level of conflict in a work-in-progress. The body language of people in a crowded coffee shop may bring insight to a character’s motivation. These normal, every day interactions are barely perceptible — until they aren’t there.

When the pandemic narrowed our lives to a few rooms or a few people, nourishment for our imaginations also narrowed. For some, like me and my friend, we got stuck.

Reading other people’s stories or watching other people’s movies doesn’t have the same power as listening to the voices around us and telling our own stories.

So, now that our pandemic restrictions are loosening and the sun is starting to shine in my part of the world, I’m resolved to push my personal boundaries beyond the backyard. I grew up with the adage that one must face one’s fears in order to overcome them. I still believe that, so while my snail-self wants to retreat into my shell, my grizzly-bear self urges me to explore new horizons. I’m going to do that.

I hope a fuller life gets my writing unstuck. Even if it doesn’t, I’d rather embrace life than hide from it.

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