Living Room

Those simple words, Living Room, have taken on new meaning worldwide. As nation after nation imposed restrictions on free movement and social interaction, our circle of daily face to face encounters are becoming limited to those who share our living room. And without loosing a single inch, that living room seemed to shrink overnight. Like going from an ocean liner to a life raft, personal space was reduced to those closest to you.

As children, many of us were sent to our rooms as punishment for misbehaving or outright rebellion. When it was our turn to parent, we considered “time out” as a more evolved form of training. The most violent criminal offenders are often restricted to solitary confinement. Time and time again we have been trained and conditioned to believe the punishment hanging over our heads is isolation.

Now governments and media and so-called experts are telling us for the good of common mankind, we must avoid contact with those outside our immediate home for months. Sure, we have social media and an abundance of online platforms to connect via screens but face to face…that’s a small circle even for large families. Most of us are not alone. We are stranded on an island with our nearest and dearest.

So how do we honor our living room? How do we make space for each other while restricted to only each other? How do we redeem this time to deepen our relationships instead of avoiding them? How do we live in the same room?

In case you missed the millions of reminders to wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home, I’d like to use those 3 points as a way to survive not the current fear but the deeper fear…intimacy in life.

Wash your hands…from childhood we’ve been told to wash our hands. It often came with the second admonition to wash our faces. So before we reach out to those nearest and dearest, taking a moment to see if we have emotional, spiritual and mental clean hands can be more important than the physical germs and dirt we might pass on.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

With clean hearts and hands we can reach out to each other in love and support. We can sit and talk. We can play and laugh. We can tell stories and really listen. We have nowhere else to be and, honestly, is there anyone else you want to be with?

Cover your cough… Anyone else remember the little catch phrase from the playground….”Say it, don’t spray it”? It has become so easy to “share” under the guise of information. The internet has become a party line on Russian Olympic steroids. If you don’t recognize either of those references please consult a Funk & Wagnalls for enlightenment. There seems to be a rush to publish, to break the story, to be the first to report or retweet or repost that leaves no time for due diligence, fact checking or even the most rudimentary spell check. Grammar, common sense and critical thinking have gone the way of the dodo bird.

It is important not to spread germs but isn’t it more important not to spread lies, gossip, shame, depression, gloom and doom, fear and hopelessness.

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them,
but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Stay at home…You are grounded. Or are you blessed? To be able to shelter in place means you have a place. A place for your stuff. Now you have time to deal with your stuff, your physical stuff and your emotional stuff. The stuff you’ve been stuffing and the stuff you’ve been saving and the stuff you’ve long outgrown. No wonder people start to get edgy when they have to stay home. There is nowhere to hide or run from stuff when you are required to stay home. Some will take this time as an opportunity to take a good look at stuff and make changes. Others will deliberately turn a blind eye and ignore it. But, let me remind you…everything in your house is there because you ALLOW it to be. Everything. Want it gone? Get rid of it! Want it fixed? Fix it! Want it painted? Paint it. Want to sit there and keep complaining about it? Well, that’s your choice, too. But if your home is a reflection of you, are you comfortable there? Are other’s comfortable there? Or is this a good time to make some changes? After all, you’re already home. How content are you to stay there?

There are countless men, women and children living on the streets of our country. Without the shelter and confines of the four walls that surround you, without the limitations of a few rooms, without…

How are you living in the room you have? How are you living the days that have been given to you? How are you making changes because of the world outside your home?

The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy, its impact was profound, and it resulted in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, one of the greatest epochs for art, architecture, and literature in human history.

It’s never too late for a personal renaissance. It must start where you live. It must have room.