Of Schedules and Sanity while Striving to Stay Safe

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By Sister Joy Clough

“Create a routine.” “Put some structure into your days.” Thus, the pundits who hope to help us save our sanity during this time of protracted “sheltering in place.” Bowing to such wisdom, here’s my routine. Yours?

Wake up naturally at my “usual” time—somewhere between 6 and 7 a.m. Stumble to the kitchen; put the coffee on. Perform my morning ablutions. Don robe.

Light candle. Pour coffee. Pray. (Or try to rein in my wandering mind.) Send thoughts and prayers of care out toward others. Notice the birds singing as if all were well.

Breakfast. Do a handful of small, comforting tasks—water the plants, put away yesterday’s dishes, pick up scattered items around the house, write a note to someone who lives alone.

By 10 a.m. or so, I face one of the day’s major decisions: What to wear on a day when no one will see me! (The bra long ago left my wardrobe.)

Then, it’s on to “projects.” Forty years of photographs crammed in a box. Where was this? Who are these people? Did I really look like that back then?

Or three-ring binders stuffed with unused segments and bibliographic notes from a 1997 research project. (Eeek! That’s almost a quarter century ago!)

Or a 12” x 16” x 9” carton full of fabric remnants found in the back of a closet, the original projects from which they are left now a matter of mystery. (Transform these “scraps” into much-needed face masks.)

Lunch comes in there somewhere, as does watching “Jeopardy.” Read for a while. Receive/share some YouTube inspiring reflection or relieving humor with others.

Take a walk. If necessary, don a mask and head to the grocery store or post office or pharmacy.  Drive to the ATM—or not; where might one need cash these days?

Evening means Vespers … dinner … the evening news (having avoided the drumbeat of daily coronavirus updates from various officials). Do the dishes. Knit while watching TV. Indulge in wordscapes, sudoku, solitaire on my cell phone.

Deal with occasional diversions from this orderly routine: Disinfect everything. Do the laundry. Take out the garbage. Open mail, with its multiple opportunities to donate to urgent and worthy (?) causes.

Most days, of course, also have their routine-defying interruptions. Phone calls from family and friends. Emails from colleagues or advertisers. And, let me confess, I do my share of disrupting others’ neatly structured days by calling or texting or even—good heavens, can this be me?—setting up a Zoom gathering with assorted others.

Thus the days pass for one who is retired. For those working from home … for those home-schooling children … for those working on the front lines caring for the sick or meeting the needs of the rest of us … for those finding new ways to volunteer (yes, I’ll write notes to undocumented persons being held in detention), for those who have lost jobs (and thereby, perhaps, health insurance), for those trying to save their businesses, for those looking after the welfare of others (like our RSM leaders and staff), for those wondering where to find food now that the pantry that sustained them has closed, for those without computers or cell phone…well, their stories are different. Which makes me aware of my many blessings.

Watch the 10 p.m. news—with its reminder that there is nothing, good or bad, happening in the world other than COVID-19. Set up the coffee for morning. Wash, brush, take meds. Doors locked? Turn out the lights. Pray and, trusting God, sleep.

That’s it—day by day—for me. You?