May 17, 2020

Redeem the Time by Lynn Dove


It has been nearly ten weeks since Alberta, and the rest of Canada, went into imposed lock down due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.  My husband and I have been sequestered away in our home, following all the health and safety protocols, and taking even extra precautions due to my compromised immunity after my cancer treatments last year.  The first week of quarantine, I actually luxuriated in the isolation.  I enjoyed the no-guilt feeling of not needing to do anything.  Nothing was expected of me, there were no schedules to follow, no activities to attend, and my time was my own.  I did what I suspect a lot of people did during the first couple of weeks of isolation; I thoroughly cleaned every nook and cranny of my home!  I had to reacquaint myself with my vacuum cleaner, but was thankful the lady who had faithfully cleaned my house while I underwent chemo and radiation, had stockpiled enough cleaning supplies so I could clean my home again at my own pace.  I was grateful that I had my energy back to do the cleaning tasks once again.  I did a little bit each day, going room to room, cleaning out closets and drawers, and re-organizing everywhere.  When I got tired, I stopped, knowing I had the luxury of time to complete whatever I had started the day before.  There was no need to hurry because no one was expected to visit, so the house could be in a state of uproar, and I felt no panic to set it all aright for company.  In those first two weeks, I enjoyed the freedom of time.  There was no pressure, nothing on the calendar, and I enjoyed the slow-down.  I had planned to spend a little time each day to write, but I got so involved in the daily cleaning tasks, I procrastinated with writing.  There would be time for writing after the cleaning was done, I told myself.

The third and fourth weeks of self-isolating, I discovered there was not one thing in my entire house that needed dusting.  The kitchen was immaculate, and I lamented that no one could see it.  How proud my children would have been of me!  I have never been a Martha Stewart type, ask anyone!  I have literally had cobwebs on my vacuum-cleaner!  I don't enjoy dusting and vacuuming, and I have basically the same repertoire of tried and true meals I cycle through each month.  I don’t really have a great talent for cooking or baking, but during this season of Covid, I’ve tried some new recipes, and my husband has been greatly pleased. While I attempted new culinary fare, I continued to procrastinate with writing.  There would be time for writing after the cooking and baking was done, I told myself.

I fully intended to walk every day, weather permitting, during these weeks of quarantine.  I wasn’t going to let self-isolating get in the way of pursuing some fitness goals.  After all, I had all the time in the world now to walk and do some exercising from the comfort of my own home.  Here in Alberta, we have been in the deep freeze far longer than the rest of Canada, so initially it was easy to blame the weather to avoid exercising.  Then, I was caught up in the cleaning mode, followed by the cooking and baking mode.  The weather improved, but I still put off walking.  My best friend sent me a text on May 1st that read: “I need to social distance myself from my refrigerator so I can flatten my curves!”  I laughed, but had to admit, my husband and I have accumulated some isolation ponch over these many weeks.  We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time watching T.V., binge-watching Star Trek mostly.  I dream of places now where no one has gone before, so I can go outside one day and not worry about physical distancing!  I still procrastinate with writing.  There will be time for writing after the binge-watching is done, I tell myself.

During the last few weeks of forced confinement, I have noticed that my house needs to be dusted and vacuumed again.  I find myself not motivated to take on the task.  My house is tidy and clean.  I can live with it.  There’s ample time to deep clean in this extended lockdown.  No hurry, I tell myself. 

What I wouldn’t give to go out to a restaurant again?  I complain.  Home-cooking is losing its appeal.   We order take-out for the third time in a week.  I scroll through the Netflix offerings again, and turn the T.V. off.  I’ve lost interest, or maybe I’ve seen it all now.  I pick up a book, but even that favoured pastime does not hold my interest long.  I try to write, but it is a tedious and frustrating exercise.  I blame writer’s block, but that would be false.  I am easily distracted, and I stare at a blank screen on my computer trying to find the words to express my thoughts and end up watching videos on YouTube, or playing mindless computer games, or immerse myself again in the daily news reports about the global pandemic.  The tedium of being confined to my house is wearing on me.  I miss my kids, I long for hugs from my grandchildren.  The weather may be improving, but I am still not taking advantage of it like I should so when my husband suggests going for a long drive, I am only too happy to go!  There will be time for writing after the drive, I tell myself.  
This morning (May 15th), I looked at my blank calendar, and suddenly I remembered I have a writing deadline!  I’m supposed to write a post for the InScribe Writer’s Online blog.  I cannot procrastinate.  I am running out of time to get it posted on time!  I don’t panic, I just start writing.  The words flow freely, and I am caught up in the joyous exercise of writing.  As I write, I think I have found the motivation I need during these remaining weeks of isolation.  I need deadlines, I need schedules, I need time-lines!  It is an epiphany for me, something I never thought I would be grateful for: the lack of time!

I must redeem the time!

Time is a gift from God, and none of us know how much of it we are allotted.  I realize I have wasted many long days doing things at home during this pandemic that have no lasting eternal value.  It is not a bad thing to want to cook and clean, or go for long walks or drives, but I confess none of those activities give me great, long-lasting joy.  Psalm 51 comes to mind: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…” (vs. 10-12)  I realize I have lost my ministry focus over these past weeks.  I have allowed time-wasting distractions to determine how I spend my days, rather than embrace this time to draw even closer to God.  I realize, and I hope not too late, that I must be more purposeful to seek His direction with my writing, so I might encourage others, and share the Gospel during this time of Covid-19.  I may have pressed a “pause” button on my writing, the last several weeks, but I’m ready to resume now.

All I need now is more time!

“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  (Ephesians 5:14-17)


Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and at lynndove.com   




7 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading about your 'journey' ands found so many things that resonated with me as I read this, Lynn. I'm sure the cleaning, cooking, and binge watching cycles seem to be common! They say that gardening is now the new 'baking'...! As a long time Star Trek fan, what better show to watch! (My opinion!) But I also get the feeling of being tired of TV... Soon, I hope, we will be able to hug those grandkids again!

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    1. Amen to hugging my grands! Thanks, Tracy as always you are so encouraging!

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  2. I enjoyed reading your experience of this strange time, Lynn. I think a big part of our paralysis is the shock of all that's happened, and the fact that we have no template for this experience. I agree that sudden deadlines galvanize us! I've had one or two that gave me purposeful direction!

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    1. Thanks, Belinda! These are indeed strange times!

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  3. I can identify with most of this, Lynn, but I still don’t feel that abundance of spare time you mention. In part this is due to my caregiving role, which causes me to adjust to and work around my husband's needs and schedule. I need to learn new ways to maximize “the cracks of time I have."

    I am so thankful and happy Hank is home, rather than being in hospital or a care facility where visiting might be forbidden. The Norwegian is here, safely at home with me, and we are, by the grace of God, managing. “Watching,” or in Hank’s case recently, listening to TV together in the evening, we appreciate each other’s company. He has suffered another bump in the road--an eye stroke in his better eye.

    We/I try to get to bed earlier, so that I am rested enough to do my morning writing, reading, and praying before my husband’s day begins. I pray for wisdom, guidance and strength for both of us. Thanks for sharing your experience, Lynn, and the lessons you’ve learned about redeeming the time. Blessings.

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    1. Sharon, thanks for sharing your life and role of caregiver here. My prayers are with you.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your Covid-19 journey, Lynn. I can relate to catching up on a number of projects, including house cleaning and quilting--working on finishing three large quilts that had been "in progress" for some time. As for writing, I was able to spend greater times in the morning without outside errands or appointments-so I was grateful for that. God bless you as you continue your journey.

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