I was supposed to be on a 10 day retreat in Ireland starting yesterday. I had so many hopes & plans for this trip, emotionally, spiritually, personally, & creatively. A few months ago, I started to plan some creative goals & prompts for myself during the trip, gathered some supplies & dreamed of inspiration; then the pandemic shadow loomed & grew.
I have a tendency to avoid emotional roller coasters and could be described as sleep-walking in my feelings sometimes. (Want to guess my Enneagram number? 😆) I didn’t really deal with the coming cancellations and changes; they were just facts I needed to face.
But yesterday hit hard. I wasn’t packed and on an airplane. I wasn’t meeting my new companions and hugging a dear mentor for the first time in ages. Instead, I was struggling with another day of facilitating two class loads for my kids with a month of home learning still to go (NYC schedule for the win). I was still cooking on a hot plate with a non-working stove holding my dish rack. I was still cleaning the bathroom at 11pm because I just needed to do something.
I woke up this morning in our tiny apartment and watched the sun stream in. I’m still quarantined in NYC and this year continues to show up differently than any of us planned or imagined. But my spirit still longs for inspiration and change. So I pulled out my Irish Studies trip photos from 2004. I laughed and smiled at the horrid quality of photos and the 20-something me before any hints of my current life existed. I carved out some space in our school schedule and I painted a quick Ireland landscape from a grainy photo. I may do this every day for my 10 days loss. Or I may abandon it in search of inspiration elsewhere. But today I stared at Ireland and mourned and sighed and looked at beauty.
There is beauty in ashes, and even in grainy 2004 photos.