Pandemic Diary: 20 Sept 2021

I sit at a wobbly picnic table in our friends’ backyard, squirrels chattering at me, huge butternuts falling around me, and kids playing in a backyard somewhere near. My friends and James are having a meeting of the spirituality committee for L’Arche Ottawa, discussing how to move into the future in a way that serves everyone’s spiritual needs best. With a community made up of core members who are differently abled in different ways, and assistants who help them navigate their days together, plus community leaders and volunteers, it’s a challenge to create an inclusive space for spiritual nourishment.

The fact that we’re in Canada is a milestone in the pandemic. Canada opened its borders to the U.S. at the end of August. We had to take COVID tests 72 hours before crossing. We got there 74 hours after our tests, so we had to take another one right there before they’d let us through. It was negative, so they let us through. (The U.S. hasn’t opened its borders to Canadians yet, for some weird who-knows-why reason. They just announced they’ll open it in November.)

We’ve been in Montreal for a week, and here in Ottawa for one overnight. (Although if this meeting goes on much longer, we’ll need to stay another night!) It’s been kind of like rising from the dead being able to walk around and sit in parks with people and go to jazz shows at our favorite club, Diese Onze. It will be very hard to go back to our daily sameness. We always say we’re going to keep walking every day and go to the great places we have in the Berkshires, etc. But when we get home and I go back to my split-shift that turns 5 hours of actual work into a 10-hour day, we quickly lose the vitality to carry it out. And we always say, This time we’ll really do it. Maybe this time we really will.

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