It seems like all my adventures for the year were planned for these shelter-in-place months. I was planning to travel to Italy, India, and Ghana and now all my plans have changed. I am sad about the things I’ve lost, but then I quickly remember all of the people in the world that are facing such greater and weightier challenges then a few cancelled trips. I have had moments of sitting in the sadness. I feel sad not only for my own losses, but for what my kids are losing (I was supposed to send my daughter off to prom in her new dress on Saturday) and for the many losses I see all around me in a changing and uncertain world. It can be overwhelming to dive too deeply in to that uncertainty. In fact, I find myself protecting my mind and trying to face that uncertainty little bits at a time. One of the ways I am processing this uncertainty is through photography.
The other day my daughter and I wandered around our empty downtown streets taking photos of shops that were closed and newspapers that had been delivered but not picked up. My daughter created a series of photographs that I think speaks powerfully to the emptiness in our community as we all stay in our places.
When we arrived home, my son was in his bedroom and saw me with my camera. He quickly donned his sunglasses and grabbed his Ghana plane and started waving it. He was just fooling around, but something about this image struck me. It captured how my spirit of adventure, travel and change is now sheltered behind the walls of our home. What once was a t-shirt about being the change in the world, by going to the world and helping, now can be seen as trying to change the spread of Covid-19 by staying home. Countries have closed their borders because of the virus. I know this is to protect people, but it makes me wonder if we will ever be as free as we once were to wander the earth, to see places we have never been, meet people who are different than us, and learn from other cultures. I will miss the world if I can’t go see it. My cancelled trips are a loss, but the uncertainty ahead can make me sad as well.
Pauline Boss says in her book, Loss, Trauma, and Resilience that “Understanding ambiguous loss and the effect that it can have on family and professional relationships is essential…the goal is health and resiliency despite uncertainty. Resiliency grows from a tolerance for doubt and ambiguity rather than from a rigid adherence to absolute certainty.” (209) My personal faith provides enough certainty centered around God’s goodness and love that I can soften my grip on what the future looks like. Because of my faith I can more easily walk into the ambiguity and experience greater peace in the uncertainty that this situation has brought. I am so grateful for this thread of peace as we walk into the unknown.
Photography by Bonnie and Sarah Sanders