Ombudsman Writings - July 2020
By Rev. Randy Fillmore
"Just When I Thought..."
There are times when I do not know where to begin. As I plan to navigate the start of each day, I start from a place of calm; generally after my time of morning meditation and prayer with my wife. It's in that planning that we try to center ourselves and begin the day with new eyes, and new energy, a new perspective. The forced isolation allows for reflective introspection, but really, there's only so much self-analysis that one can take.
The shift from phone calls or quick visits with friends has turned into virtual world of "almosts". The physical touch of a hug has been replaced with a simulated embrace that looks like a bad pantomime of wrapping your arms around an imaginary refrigerator box. Gatherings using video chat services have turned into seeing who has the best simulated background image, or dreading being interrupted by a pet wanting attention and will do anything to divert your attention from the screen and onto them, or the wasted time trying to speak during the call only to have others jump in at the same time and everyone steps on each other so no one hears what anyone is saying.
I remember radio communications' early days when use of the word "Over" was stated at the end of a transmission indicating the person speaking was done talking and the other person could then speak. This was useful in a 2-way conversation, and has from my experience been replaced of late with this phrase, "Go Ahead", indicating the receiver is ready to hear from the other party. We just haven't figured out how to handle video calls or sessions when multiple people attend. Maybe we should ask our elders who remember telephone party lines for advice.
Aside from the frustration that comes from isolation, feigned physical contact (except for spouses, partners, or those living together), it seems, just when I thought we had run the course of the insane, idiotic, or troubling local, regional, national, or international events, it just keeps mounting. News cycles that used to change every couple of days are now overcome by events from the next half-hour. Text crawls along the bottom of the television screen once reserved for severe weather warnings are now crammed on top of one another because there is so much happening and the intent of broadcasters to pack every ounce of information into the beam of electrons appearing on the screen of your television, computer, phone, or other smart device.
Just when I thought, we might shed the fear of a far-away pandemic, the fear turned to reality and arrived in this country.
Just when I thought, people would take lessons from experts and history and engage in a campaign to minimize a disease that shows no regard for who it affects.
Just when I thought the compassion demonstrated in other countries first to experience this pandemic would translate to our shores, and we would demonstrate to the world that we too can sing from balconies, care for those who are lonely, demonstrate a national pride in overcoming an invisible adversary.
Just when I thought the pockets of such compassion and heart-filled generosity, we learned of others who don't share those ideals.
Just when I thought we had endured enough stay-at-home directives, empty store shelves, shuttered businesses and historically high unemployment, yet another news cycle that buried the previous headline.
Just when I thought the fear and angst would be isolated, we experienced the news and shocking video of yet another needless death that sparked an uprising of voices that demand to be heard AND is long overdue in meaningful reform and healing.
Just when I thought things HAD to be getting better, the pandemic now seems to have returned with a vengeance causing those at risk or susceptible to return to isolation.
I finally figured out that my attitude was, "just when I thought..." and based on human understanding - forcing me to assign a meaning to everything; essentially judge what was happening and assign a feeling. I learned to forgive myself for demanding in human nature and behavior what can only be found in divine nature.
Once I reached this spiritual understanding, it helped to make today's circumstances less bothersome and annoying. I'm choosing how I react to external influences and circumstances. Do I get it right each and every time. Not a chance. At least most of the time, when I eventually become aware of reverting back to judging and reacting, I'm reminded that I am contributor to the angst, where I should be just an observer.
I AM a work in progress.
Blessings along your path
Rev Randy Fillmore