I hate to express unpopular opinions, but for many reasons I am LOVING this quarantine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of deadly viruses or endless school closures, but some of the resulting outcomes of a worldwide pandemic have actually benefitted our family. The mandatory quarantine is one example.
During the mush and mix of motherhood—especially on days when I feel totally overwhelmed—I have often wished for a long VACATION: a few weeks (or months) where the world stops and we can actually catch up on life. Right? Get through the family photos, organize the cupboards, finish the books, watch the movies, take the walks and DO everything on our “someday” lists.
Well, my at-home dream vacation wish has come true!
Our calendars are EMPTY! Our kids are all HOME! My husband CAN’T go to a meeting or run an errand or leave on a business trip. The soccer games are gone. The dance practices are on hold. The flute lessons have been cancelled. There is NOTHING going on.
Frankly, this absence of appointments is HEAVEN! For a few blessed weeks (err….months) the world has stopped spinning.
And I love it.
The fluff and fuss of life has vanished and we are down to the bare bones of reality and value. We are FINALLY catching up on all those lists of things to do. We have finished projects and sewn quilts and made crafts and read books and watched movies that have been on our shelves for a long, long time.We are talking and spending time and eating dinner and chatting and laughing in ways we haven’t for a while.
I am systematically going through my bookshelf and giving the kids classic books to read—books they are too busy to touch during school. I cleaned out my file drawer and pulled out all of the extra preschool papers I’d been hoarding since Child #1…and gave them to Child #10 to complete. We dug out that puzzle we were saving for a rainy day. We pulled out the paints and clay and craft supplies. We opened the Scout handbooks and read and learned and did and grew. We flew kites on a windy afternoon. And in the evenings we’re treating ourselves each night to one show on our list. If this continues, we’re sure to watch and read and finish everything we’ve ever wanted to.
Who knew a worldwide stay-at-home order could be such a blessing? In the midst of this unprecedented lull, we are actually thriving.And the benefits aren’t just in our simple to-do lists. There are spiritual effects as well.
A few months ago our church leaders advised us to “trim” the branches of our trees. Their meaning was clear: simplify our lives, cut back on extra-curricular activities, and focus on our families. That pruning is easier said than done. With every child involved in one event, my days and weeks and afternoons and evenings have been chock-full of sports and practices and meetings and concerts. When I first attempted to “trim” our branches I made lists of activities we might cut back on, but the decision of what to actually remove was hard to make.But now, almost overnight, the branches are all miraculously trimmed, chopped and cut off. We are left with only our trunk and roots—our family and our values. We are down to our bare selves, and the world is forced to remember what really matters.
The amazing thing about this sudden pruning is that much of our situation is normal. We still have food and clothes and (for now) money in the bank. In other words, life continues but distractions have stopped. Is this what our church leaders hoped for? Either way, this is exactly what I have longed for.
While the pandemic swirls around us, we are enjoying life. We wake up with 24 hours to ourselves. We plan what we want to plan. We do what is most needful. We spend time with those that truly matter—right here in our home.
My youngest son is completely in heaven. All of his older siblings are home and they have time for him. They aren’t burdened by homework or unending projects. It’s like summer on steroids. As time goes on, I’ve observed my children becoming best friends again. It is exciting and miraculous at the same time.
Our happiness doesn’t mean I am irresponsible. In fact, despite our contentment, we are certainly worried about our vulnerable friends and family. My 99-year-old neighbor called last week to see how we are doing. It’s amazing to consider that she has now experienced several world pandemics. I asked about her situation and she shared a profound truth.
“Life is a long hard job,” she advised. But then she continued, “There is no life without family love.”
This observation by CS Lewis is also especially relevant:
Satan: I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.
Jesus: I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.
Like C.S. Lewis, I believe this turning to God is actually approaching Zion.
The term Zion has been used for centuries to describe a perfect society. Prophets have testified. Philosophers have written. Pilgrims have searched. People in all walks of life have longed for Zion. And we are lucky enough to possibly have arrived.
The definition of Zion is a “closed society”: A place and people who can survive on their own, without depending on—or being negatively influenced by—outside sources.
Life isn’t perfect, but I have to say that our quarantined family feels like Zion. We teach each other. We entertain ourselves. We manage our own space. We laugh and play and cry and grow. We worship within our walls. We are thriving without the world. It is a curious and telling situation to observe.
On Easter Sunday we held our own church service. We sat in our formal sitting room and sang hymns. We shared testimonies. We read scriptures. We rejoiced in new life together. It was an unforgettable time of worship.
I always knew that home was synonymous with temple, but these times give “home” an even deeper meaning. The days are sacred.
I wonder if we could live this way forever. But this situation won’t—and can’t—last indefinitely.Someday when the pandemic is under control the world will casually start to spin again, faster and faster with events and appointments and assignments and practices and things to do and places to go. We will plan parties and attend concerts and go back to school. Our calendars will fill, our desks will pile up, our cars will run non-stop to get us all to a million places.
But until then I’m going to enjoy each sacred quality quarantined day in our temple home.
And just as the world prays for the end of the pandemic, I pray that my children will remember and relish every walk, every laugh, every relaxing family moment during these unprecedented times.
Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity for a quality quarantine; and a taste of Zion.