Love your neighbor. Stay home.

(Sam putting up banners at my church.)

Hi, friends.

So, how are we all doing?

Me, I’m caught in a cycle of being profoundly aware of what an honest-to-God PRIVILEGE it is to have the ability to stay home, and occasionally going out of my mind with the family-togetherness of it all.

The place in which I’m currently spending ALL my days and nights–that is, my house–has a screened front porch, and from it I can look out onto our small yard that houses a towering tree that my husband planted years ago. He planted it to mark the first anniversary of his marriage to his first wife, with whom he parted amicably. I love the tree and love that Sam’s anniversary impulse was to plant one. Sam is private, so I don’t talk much about him in the public sphere, but I will say this: He’s the kind of solid, dependable, can-fix-just-about-anything-sort-of-a-man that I once thought only existed in novels.

Another thing about Sam: He does not have the same “religious gene” that I do. I’ve always been drawn not only to God, but to the search for God, be it books on faith, talks on faith, Taize services, incense, ritual. I should add that my Christianity is of a leftwing variety that some of my rightwing Christian friends might find apostate, but I can live with that. (What I can’t live with is subscribing to an exclusionary faith that dishonors other religions, and is much more interested in individual salvation and, say, the 2nd Amendment than in the daily struggle to love each other well–imperfect beings that we are–during our fleeting time on this very earth.) ANYWAY,  back to Sam: he’s not particularly religious, but he says that IF he were a church-goer, he would definitely belong to my church. And because it’s important to me, he attends services about 6 times a year, and together we had Gus baptized.

The other week I needed to put banners up outside our church urging people to STAY HOME, as a way of loving one’s neighbor, and guess who hung them? Sweet Sam. It took about 2 hours to do so. Watching him steadily go about the task of hanging up church signs, it occurred to me that THIS was what church was about–people in community looking out for each other, guided by a spirit that is generous, loving, and connected. What does it matter what beliefs we profess? My own beliefs have changed so much over the years. I think the more crucial question might be: How do we act towards each other? Do we patiently show up for those we love, even if we are showing up for something that isn’t exactly “our thing?”

So, what else is going on? I’m spending LOTS of quality time with my son, and he is also spending LOTS of quality time with the television. I feel guilty about this, but I’m trying to let it go. Our house is small, my son is needy (as all young kids seem to be during this strange and confusing time) and sometimes I need the television to babysit. When I start to feel as if I’m going to lose my mind from 1) suddenly becoming a homeschooling parent, and 2) not knowing WHEN my kid is going to be able to hang out with his friends and his grandparents again, I find that if I can just get outside, I’m usually okay. I had a therapist once tell me that when I felt as if I was going to lose my shit (this was back when my son was a stubborn toddler), I should get outside as fast as I could and put my feet in the dirt. And so, I’ve had a few comical parenting moments of being like, “Wait, right there!” while I run outside and walk around barefoot.

But it helps. It honest-to-God helps. As does yoga (my studio is offering online classes), walking, watching sweet, lovely movies with my kid at night, contemplative prayer, and meditation.

This week, my membership gifts from The Bitter Southerner arrived. Do y’all know this online magazine? So excellent. Its fearless editors are committed to representing the South in a more honest and interesting way than it is usually portrayed–celebrating what is great about it and unearthing all that is regressive and terrible. I love my new “Stand for a Better South” bag, and were I going anywhere these days, I’d take it with me, always!

On that note: my kid ALWAYS wants any buttons or stickers I receive, which is why he is in the possession of vintage gay rights buttons from the 80s that I got at an art exhibit (I wish I could say they were just mine from that time), as well as all of my Bitter Southerner buttons, and a button he got from the High Museum’s A.A. Milne exhibit, as well as a button showcasing one of his favorite pairs of literary siblings, Charlie and Mouse. The other day we tie-dyed t-shirts (fun), and he decided to decorate his tie-dye with all his buttons, as seen here.

I hope everyone is hanging in there. What a strange, strange time we are living through. Take notes! Stand for a Better South! Think about what you want the world to look like once we emerge from this place…

Love, Susan