Trapped in a tower, my quarantine practice.
That was me in 1990 in Europe. Literally.
You may have heard of medieval castles with dungeons and towers?
30 years ago, Hewitt and I transitioned from missions work in Africa to a brief stay in America. While in Tennessee, I looked like an inflated elephant until I gave birth to our second child. When little Hewitt was 6 weeks old, we bundled him up with twenty month old Sonja and flew to Belgium, giddy with the excitement of experiencing another overseas adventure! (little did I know..)
Upon our arrival, we drove to the Bible Seminary which had hired Hewitt as a theology professor and also offered us an apartment.
I gasped when we pulled in at a former monastery, a looming 6 floor U-shaped brick structure with two towers overlooking a neglected park ground. “Your apartment is in the tower,” the school secretary announced. I smiled, thinking she was kidding. Before marrying, I had gallivanted around Spain, Italy and West Africa on a ship with 40 different nationalities on board. Travelling from port to port, we had accommodated up to 7000 visitors a day. Every day I had chatted with new people and shared exotic meals in their homes while loving the constant stimulation. “The tower?” I frowned. The secretary showed me the elevator. “When it works, the elevator goes to the fourth floor. Take the winding staircase up the next two floors.” “When it works?”
She nodded apologetically. Upon entering the tower apartment, I discovered 2 iron twin beds and no furniture. Undeterred, I ran the hot water to give our jet lagged babies a bath. 2 hours later, the faucet turned form cold to lukewarm.
“That’s normal,” the secretary informed me.
When Hewitt joined us, I sat him down on the floor. “I’m going thrift shopping.” He nodded. Two weeks later, I had furnished the place and even upholstered an ugly old two seater bench with the help of IKEA. The 12 foot tall ceilings and 7 foot windows felt less imposing. But with large rooms a quarter mile away from the building’s furnace, the central heat didn't reach us. My mom shipped our kids Norwegian wool underwear. Hewitt started teaching. Relegated to the tower, I envied his mobility.
Below us, the classrooms teemed with bantering students who also ate their meals together. Up top, in my secluded abode, I stewed, feeling alone and cut off.
The kids and I planned our daily escapade carefully. With backpacks full of diapers, burp cloths and extra clothing, we descended into civilization and joined the student’s morning break. Delirious, I chatted for 15 minutes. When everyone disappeared, whether rain or shine, our threesome hit the sandbox, then headed for a nature walk.
When Sonja wailed at having to use her legs, we mounted the stairs to the tower again.
"Lord.I can only carry the baby. Sonja must climb the precarious steps with a railing that has gaps wide enough for her to fall through?"
Helpless, I watched Sonja take a cry breaks on each landing.
"Stir up joy," God suggested.
I argued. “I look for it in people and situations. I don’t know how to create it.”
The Father waited patiently. "As you nurse your baby, I am weaning you off your previous pleasures." "Arrgh." I pitched a fit. “I need others. I crave a fast tempo. I’m dying here, stuck in drudgery and boredom.”
When desperate enough, I caved in.
We baked. Cleaned. Colored. Sang. Painted. Played with Play Dough. As we did, my daughter came alive and the baby grinned contentedly. It took me longer.
Why am I telling you this?
Because confinement can be hard and even feel like punishment.
But what if God is teaching you to stir up joy?
Do you have a wooden spoon and the ingredients needed for that recipe?
Whether alone or with others, you may be trapped in a self-quarantine in your own place.. You can do this!
What does the Father have for you during this time?
And who does he want to be for you? As for me personally, this April He is teaching me to slow down and be still. And in the stillness he adjusts my inner lens from blurry to distinct. I see what he sees instead of being lost in my own mental jungle. I am leaving you with this: "After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Genesis 15, 1. HE IS OUR SHIELD AND OUR GREAT REWARD!
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