Why Wait For Valentine’s Day?
I was recently invited to send Valentine’s Day cards to people who might not get any. I love that idea and decided to start making some. After all, the grandkids aren’t the only ones who like to mess around with craft supplies, right? Fortunately we are very well supplied with colored pencils and there’s even a couple of boxes of blank cards on nice card stock with matching envelopes. I feel far more creative in the garden than in drawing, but hey, valentines are hardly about great artistry or astonishing creativity. Hearts and flowers, right? I drew a bunch of hearts, added a few flowers and started coloring them in. I’ve been doing one or two a day and finding it almost meditative. It’s actually a bit like using a coloring book, simple and soothing and surprisingly satisfying.
Soothing is good, because there’s still so much going on that staying serene is taking every trick and tool I’ve got. Local covid rates continue to climb and clinics are so short staffed, they’re basically telling people to stay home and assume you’ve got it if you get symptoms. When our home tests were negative, we learned that most of them don’t pick up omicron well. Again the professional advice was so isolate, hydrate and take over-the-counter analgesics as needed. My daughter and I had similar symptoms; headache, sore throat, muscle aches, little fever bursts, sniffles. So did several neighbors and we all decided to assume that we had covid and stay home. As symptoms came on, I made several batches of soup and that carried us through the days when napping was more important than meal making. Happily those days were few and we’re all on the mend from whatever it was. Actually, I’m thinking we really did catch the virus because of two things: for the past week, I’ve had no appetite, which is pretty unusual, and it hasn’t come back yet. Even more unheard of, the idea of eating anything sweet has been and still is repugnant. That, like so much else that’s going on, is simply unprecedented!
All Kinds Of Service
Yesterday, our annual community MLK event was presented as an online offering with some amazing speeches, especially a heartfelt and rousing one on service from Doctor Karen A. Johnson, the first Director of Washington State’s recently formed Office of Equity. What a powerhouse of a woman, so smart, so warm, and so genuine. If you get a chance to hear her speak, definitely do. WOW! Afterward we got an online walking tour of the Bainbridge Island Museum Of Art, which is currently featuring some powerful and very moving exhibits. BIMA focuses on local and regional artists, many of national stature, and the staff also puts on a stellar array of online panels and programs with an equity emphasis. Listening and watching, I was thinking about the way that art has become such an active and interactive medium with strong influences way beyond the shelter of academia. Our local wonder woman, Akuyea Karen Vargas, just won a Governor’s Luminary Award for decades of work with underserved youth, often using art as a tool for self expression, and as deep, healing therapy for wounded hearts and spirits.
Several of the artists in yesterday’s presentation mentioned that they consider their art as equity work and as a gift to the beloved community. Many of the keynote speakers noted that, for activists, MLK day is a day ON, not a day off, a time to honor MLK’s legacy in action as well as words. As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” Sometimes the idea of service may seem intimidating, but really, service comes in all shapes and sizes. Though we are still in quarantine, I was able to pass along a big bag of warm hat and scarves and mitts made by the Senior center knitting group, to be offered along with warm meals and hot drinks to homeless people. We’ve been piling them up for two year, as local agencies weren’t accepting in-kind contributions, so there will be a lot of warmer heads and hands today, covid or no covid.
Little Gifts, Big Impact
If knitted hats can be considered a gift of service, I suppose even Valentine’s Day cards might be as well. In fact, I know they can, because during the earlier pandemic lockdown time, writing notes and cards to shut-in elders clearly made a big difference to their feelings of isolation and anxiety. Sometime if I couldn’t think of anything new or clever to say, I’d cut out jokes or pictures of beautiful gardens from magazines and paste them into a card with a few words, like, “Wish we could be walking in this lovely garden” or “This joke is so bad it made me snort tea through my nose.” You know, uplifting thoughts.
As the lethargy of our mystery illness slowly ebbs, I’m realizing that having a week absolutely off was something I’d really like to try again when I didn’t feel like napping all day. I’ve never been big on vacations, and at this stage of life, my home, my garden, my family and my community supply pretty much everything I want. However, I do have a tendency to jump in and do what seems to need doing and sometimes that means I’m putting more on my plate than I can actually handle. Maybe it’s time to see that my plate isn’t as large as it used to be? Maybe it’s time to slow down a bit and make space for someone else to jump in? Maybe only doing a little is plenty now? I’ve been remembering a dear Quaker neighbor from my childhood: I loved to visit her, because she was always calm and welcoming and actually listened. When I would pour out my fears and concerns about the world (this was during the civil rights movement, when the evening news was horrifying), she would often say, “None of us can solve everything, but we can all brighten our corner.” Amen, sister!