As Covid precautions have changed, we have been less intentional about our reconciliation teas. But I hope to carry this practice and intentionality (intentionaliTEA?) with me even into this next normal. We don’t make purposeful time for reconciliation every day now, but I’d like to make it, at least, a weekly rhythm.
Second, a month or two into the pandemic, as it became clear that seeing people outside was a safer way to interact, we began to center our nights on our backyard firepit. We would invite people over and eat meals outside, socially distanced, around the fire. Sometimes we roasted marshmallows or hot dogs. Of course, I’ve hung out around fires before, but never as often as during Covidtide. It is a deeply human and humanizing activity. Our ancestors sat around fires for hundreds of thousands of years, but I had somehow lost this ancient custom.
My personal rediscovery of fire was a delight. I found again and again that something about those flickering flames brought easier connection with others. Sitting around a fire outside — as opposed to meeting in a restaurant, bar or even just inside my house — slowed us all down. The crackle and beauty of staring at a fire actually lowers blood pressure, according to a University of Alabama study. The warmth from the flames gave rise to laughter and vulnerability as smoke rose like incense into the night sky.
Twice in the last few weeks, we’ve had friends over in the evening. We were all fully vaccinated and, according to the C.D.C., it would have been quite safe to eat inside. But it was warm outside, with spring in Texas starting to bloom, so we hung out around the fire, just for the sheer pleasure of it.
Lastly, hiking had long been a favorite family activity, but Covid took it to a new level. With city playgrounds shut down and a longing to be out of the house, we bought a hiking pack to carry our baby with us and hit the trails. We are not hard-core. We have little kids who dawdle and backtrack and sometimes whine. At times it’s too hot. At times it’s too cold. At times we get 20 minutes into a hike and think, We should have just stayed home and watched TV.
But there are days when we leave the trails exhilarated, having seen something extraordinary or beautiful. Once, on a familiar trail, a small flood the week before left a new waterfall behind. Once we came across a natural pool where 100 baby frogs, each one as small as a thumbnail, were gleefully trying out their new legs. And my children swear they found a bigfoot track once. (I cannot confirm this sighting.) It’s always a risk heading out to the trail, which is why I’m glad it’s a habit that we formed. So I hope we keep this up, even now, when it’s more safe to be inside with other people again.
Looking back over the past two years of Covid precautions, what practices, habits or perspectives do you want to keep in the seasons ahead? Let us know in an email to HarrisonWarrenfirstname.lastname@example.org (and include your name and where you live), and we may choose some of your responses to feature in next week’s newsletter.