by Laura Stahnke
We all have different stories to tell. The first lockdown hit me at a particularly confusing time, less than a year after my husband died. I was just beginning to make a few good friends in my newly full time rural home. The EUU retreat was to take place in Prague, and two long time friends had invited me to their homes in the US, so I was planning flights in both directions. Then the lockdown was announced; not only couldn’t I travel abroad, or go up to Paris and Picardy to visit family, but I also couldn’t even see my new friends in the Touraine.
Survival was my first instinct, survival first by connecting with people via Zoom, telephone and FaceTime, and I am profoundly grateful to EUU, UUFP and all the UU friends who made this possible; survival second with physical exercise, a walk in the nearby fields everyday; and finally survival through mental exercise: reading, writing, doing jigsaw puzzles, studying Greek…..
Four months later
Not only did I survive, but I received gifts from this period, blessings from life. I learned to slow down, really slow down and settle into myself and my house. A meditation group called Sangha Live helped me work on tasks I had been putting off. I learned to face and even to embrace my grief and solitude as a widow; I learned to be fully present in all the spaces of my house that John and I had shared for so many years, spaces I had come to fear once he was gone. This lockdown also gave me the gift of seeing the natural beauty around me in a deeper way; I fully became part of the fields, trees and flowers; even the animals were companions, the deer jumping in front of me on my walks, the neighbor’s escaped rabbit sitting on my front lawn, the doves cooing every morning.
We don’t always get to choose our experiences in life, and certainly most of us would never have chosen lockdown, but for me the first lockdown was a boon.