It’s hard not to talk about the state of the world right now. This pandemic will undoubtedly change the way the world operates for years to come. What we are all collectively experiencing will transform each and every one of us in one way or another regardless of age, race, creed, or political affiliation. Experts suggest that this could be one of those moments we look back on in the history classes of the future as a major turning point in our existence as humans the same way we examine moments like the industrial revolution, major world wars, the moon landing, and September 11. But what we experience as individuals during this trying time is just as important as our collective experience. How we all interpret and live out this pandemic is as varied and unique as we are.
While this pandemic will undoubtedly alter the lives of toddlers, it will alter them in a completely different way than it will alter the lives of adults or teenagers…or 86 and 1/2 year olds.
This week, we interviewed longtime First Church member, Gaye Fuller. Gaye lives at Trinity Terrace and explains that she only recently moved from her home of 60 years into Trinity Terrace — just two weeks before this pandemic struck! It goes without saying that this time is bittersweet for her, but so far, she says, “I love living here. I get to see people every day, I go for walks around the building, keeping my safe distance. There is a lovely terrace we are allowed to sit on to get some fresh air, I’ve even reconnected with some of my friends from my younger Woman’s Club days!”
It is hard to live alone even when life is “normal,” and we all know how much it can mean to just talk to someone for a bit. Gaye says, “I am a talker, not a reader, but even I have been picking up some old favorites right now.” She tells us that her favorite book is Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert. It’s a biography about a famous turn of the century explorer and scholar, Gertrude Bell. “I enjoy using this time to keep my mind sharp and to stay in touch. When the isolation feels like it’s getting to me, I take a walk to clear my mind.” It seems like such a simple and insignificant action: a walk. But many studies show that a walk can help ease tension, calm the mind — and it’s good exercise!
Gaye explains that she still attends Linda’s Thursday Theologians group every week on zoom and is the host of her Inquirer’s Sunday School Group meeting on Sunday mornings! This transition to using technology has not been an easy one, Gaye relates in her perfectly dry way. “As a self-proclaimed luddite, I hate emails and being online and Facetime,” she says. “But, in spite of myself, I’ve been using these tools to try and stay connected right now. Here at Trinity Terrace I can fill my cup emotionally by waving to folks as I walk and chat a bit from a distance, and FUMCFW helps fill my cup spiritually with all their different online options.”
Gaye reminds us, “This isn’t the only pandemic I’ve lived through. I remember the polio pandemic as a young person and my grandmother not allowing me to swim with my friends or go to the movies. It was a scary time.” She continues, “But as with anything, I suppose, time changes perspectives. I don’t think back on that time and think about how bored I was. I just think about how we came up with new was of getting along and eventually created the vaccine and eradicated it.” What if these moments come up during the course of a lifetime as a sort of nudge from the world to say, “Hey, let’s refocus a little bit…”
Gaye says, “I think we needed this moment, as awful as this all is, to have that moment to slow down, look back, and reflect on what is important.”
Gaye concluded our delightful conversation by saying, “Don’t get too wrapped up in all this. Take my word for it, I’ve lived through times like these, the boredom and scariness of it all fades with time, and what you have when it’s all over are the memories you make. I hope you can enjoy the time you have with these kids, and your families.” It’s true that tough times like these are what make us who we are. But Gaye is right, it’s up to us on how we use this time to help shape us.
Breathe. Go for a walk. Read a book. Wave to a neighbor. Learn something new. Call a friend.