People tell me that they are dreaming a lot during this time. Last night I dreamed that I couldn’t, for the life of me, find where I was on a map.
I kept turning the map one way, then another. I turned it over to the other side, then back. For a moment I would think I had found a location from which I would get my bearings, then I would lose it. Don’t need Freud to interpret that one.
A friend who says he has been feeling unusual fatigue during this time sent along an article on Why We Are Tired During Lockdown. It offers some advice for coping. Personally, I’m sick of advice for coping.
This occurs to me: that while we may be sleeping more, this time also has the quality of a vigil. That is, some part of us remains awake and watchful, when we should be, even are, sleeping.
Over the years, I’ve kept vigil with families at the bedside of a loved one. I’ve done it with my own loved ones. Keeping those vigils is exhausting. Time seems to move so s-l-o-w-l-y, only interrupted by hushed conversations in the hall or trips to a hospital cafeteria.
But I’ve also noticed this of such vigils. When they are over, usually because death has come, that waiting time, the time of vigil, seems to have been no time at all.
Now, we’re keeping vigil. Watching the statistics, the trends, the curves. Checking in with family and friends. Checking the supply of oil for our figurative lamps (see Matthew 25: 1 – 13). Dozing off at odd times.
The thing about the present vigil is that it seems there will be no definitive end. No miraculous resurrection or merciful death. No visitor arriving in the depths of night so that the party may begin. This is a tough vigil.
It’s hard to get our bearings. To find where we are on the map. To even find the map. And yet, even if not definitive, an end or a change, will come. In the meantime, (I guess this is advice, sorry) go easy on yourself. Go easy on those with whom you share your confinement. And, as the old gospel hymn has it, keep your lamps trimmed and burning as best you are able.
“Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, keep your lamps trimmed and burning, keep your lamps trimmed and burning, for this work’s almost done.
“Sisters, don’t grow weary, brothers don’t grow weary, children don’t grow weary, for this work’s almost done.”