As you know, Sid and I ventured to Florida in late January, never dreaming we would still be here in May! So many unexpected realities for all of us these days. As you also know, Sid and I live in Maine but come to Massachusetts every week for services to be with our Ruach community and with my sister’s family where we live when in MA.
As the days of COVID-19 have extended, so, too, has our stay in Florida. We have been trying to figure out when it might make sense to begin our 1000 mile trek home in our RV. First it was going to be by Passover in early April, then the end of April, then mid May, . . . Whenever we would discuss this there never seemed to be a clear answer, until this week.
Our place in Florida is as safe as any place could be, perhaps a little safer than some. We are not near any major city and we don’t really need to leave our home to have our needs met since Instacart handles that for us. We have great outdoor recreation options and air conditioning for when the days get hotter. It has also been a huge blessing to be here helping with my cousin’s medical challenges. As Sid and I discussed these reasons to stay compared to reasons to go, we finally came to the decision to stay in Florida until the coronavirus situation dictated differently. We know the situation here and we don’t know the uncertainties of the trip over such a long distance, not to mention the possibility of many visitors to Maine this summer that attracts New Yorkers and east coast people for the cooler sea breezes of our Midcoast Maine area. Not too many people head to Florida now so our odds of avoiding the virus improve by staying put.
As we processed this decision, we realized that safety, convenience, weather, and outdoor beauty are factors, but the real draw of “home” is the people, the relationships. If we were not going to be able to be with our family, friends, loved ones, our communities, by coming home, then the knowns of staying far outweigh the unknowns of taking on the long journey back at this time. Although for all these years we thought we were in love with our place in Maine, and there is an element of that as I recall its beautiful spot by the ocean, we have learned that oceans are beautiful wherever. It’s the people that make the difference.
That having been said, wherever you are I encourage you to drink in the beauty of nature. Spring is here and beautiful everywhere, even on the cold and rainy days. These days of limited activities create amazing opportunities to bask in HaShem’s created universe. Nature nurtures us. I hear the lightness of spirit in the voices of so many being revived by walks outdoors, even gazes out the window, daily reminders, daily reconnections to the awesomeness of our Abba, living evidence of the love He has for us that He gives us the blessings of nature. We are reminded of the renewal of life, birth out of death as perennials re-emerge, baby animals are born, gorgeous skies enchant, the bright sun shines, a tranquil moon rises each night. We are reminded of hope and new beginnings.
As you shelter in place with your loved ones this week, hug a little more, be aware of the blessing of each other’s presence. No doubt these days of geographic distancing have sharpened our awareness of the difference between virtual relationships, as great as they are, and flesh and blood real ones, and we can’t help but miss the latter. if you live alone, take advantage of as many phone calls, FaceTimes, and Zoom calls with loved ones as you can. These encounters, our relationships of love, both virtual and real, are to be cherished and nurtured as we are reminded of what is most important in our lives – each other.
One day this period of physical distancing will be history, no longer our story.