An invitation to slow down and connect
Before you start reading this, I have to warn you: this is not a terribly uplifting post–a reflection of the abundance of questions I have right now, and the paucity of answers. It is a grey day here on Prince Edward Island. I am sitting at my writing desk with a tiny vase of violas and sweet peas on the desk beside me to brighten my morning. My heart is aching this morning for my friends and family members living in the United States. While I harvest blackberries and make jam, sip hot cups of tea and savour the shift from late summer to fall, people I love are evacuating their homes as fires burn uncontrollably, inhaling smoke, struggling to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy while Covid-19 spreads, trying to homeschool their children and maintain full-time jobs or refinance their homes so they can still afford their morgages despite having been temporarily laid off due to Covid, and preparing for an election that is going to dictate the direction their lives will take over the next four years.
Officially, the border between the US and Canada is still closed to all but essential travel, and given that all 55 of our Covid cases here on PEI have been the direct result of international travel, getting on a plane does not make a great deal of sense right now. Going to help is the first thing that comes to mind though, especially when I have friends who are single parents with full time jobs who are having to hire people to come into their homes to help support their children so that they have some supervision while they attempt to do their school work online. The financial pressures alone make me ache for my friends. Here on PEI, with only 11 active Covid cases, all of them international travel-related and all of them home in isolation, with zero community transmission so far, the public schools have now cautiously re-opened. We are wearing masks in public places like grocery stores, and other than a small circle of close friends, most of us are maintaining social distance when we socialize. But in many ways life is pretty good up here. We can breathe the air without choking, the sun is clearly visible in the sky, not shrouded with smoke….people are out and about pursuing their lives and enjoying each others’ company. We can even travel regionally within our ‘Atlantic Bubble.’ And yet I am not at ease. I struggle to focus. I toss and turn all night, and when I finally do sleep I have intense dreams from which I wake sweating with a thumping heart. How do we rest when those we love are suffering? The current situation is hammering home, yet again, that until we are all able to enjoy a good quality life, none of us can really, fully live our best lives.
And so the question that I am asking is: how can I help without jumping on a plane and putting both myself and those I would be headed to offer support to in danger of exposure to something I might catch in transit? Before I fall asleep at night I lie in bed and pray, and the first thing I do these days before starting my day is whisper prayers for everyone who needs them, but it doesn’t feel like anywhere near enough. I call my friends to offer encouragement and a listening ear. I send emails and texts. I am registered to vote from abroad to do my part in turning the current political situation around. But what ELSE can I do? I don’t have any great answers here. If you do please leave me a comment, as I would love to have more concrete things I can actively DO to improve things south of the border.
How are YOU coping with what is happening in the US right now? Are there things you are doing that feel like you are contributing to improving things for those who are experiencing so much struggle and loss?