I am reminded of the motto I took up when our life changed so dramatically 3 weeks ago (when Ron’s students were sent home): “Wherever you are, be love in that place” (St. Therese).
What does it mean “To be love in that place”? In the normal hustle and bustle of pre-corona life, that phrase could be a bit abstract. But now, with 8 of us living in a matchbox-size apartment in rural Italy, this beautiful adage has taken on new meaning for me. In 3 weeks of upheaval and 2 weeks of quarantine:
I have slowed way down.
I do not rush when I mop anymore.
I do not rush when I do the dishes.
I smile at others more often. I smiled a huge smile at the checkout lady at the grocery store (the one time I have been out) and she stared at me as though she had never seen a smile before.
I listen with both ears when people talk to me.
When it is my turn to talk, I notice people seeming to hear me better.
I noticed for the first time today the beautiful design on the fountain pen Ron gave me for Christmas.
When I read a scripture verse, I can ponder each word for a much longer time. Rather than skimming over it, I can sink into it.
I feel lots of little burdens vanishing.
I can stretch or exercise with more patience now.
I have a heightened enjoyment of the taste of food.
I sleep better and longer.
It is also true that I have huge worries about the economy, our future, and the end of the world coming sooner than I thought. It is almost impossible to describe living with greater peace and yet greater anxiety at the same time.
In both these ways, however, St. Therese’s words to be “love in that place” make more sense to me. To be love, you first have to be. Then you can think how or what you want to be. But if you are too busy doing, and not yet be-ing, then it is a lovely idea (one I have adored for 15 years) but impossible to realize on a constant basis. Living in a forced-quarantine, with no tv, no Wifi, limited data, and yet with the 7 people I love most in the world, seems like a good time to start.