Down a Rabbit Hole
Finally! No more wearing masks, social distancing, or washing hands to the point of making them raw and chapped. This is what I long to tell myself after nine long months enduring the pandemic. Unfortunately there is no visible end in sight. When we locked down in the spring in order to “slow the spread,” I figured by Thanksgiving we would be heading back into the pre-pandemic normalcy that is my life. Instead, daily newscasts report increasing infection rates, and warn of the dangers of holiday travel and gathering with loved ones. The pandemic rages on, and I find myself in danger of falling “down a rabbit hole.”
As one who enjoys the creativity of fantasy fiction, I have always loved books like Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1865 the author coined the phrase, “down a rabbit hole,” when the main character, Alice, followed a white rabbit into his hole, and she fell head first after him. The fall led her into an alternate world, wandering aimlessly where nonsense and confusion were commonplace to all who resided there. These days we speak of heading “down a rabbit hole” when we get sidetracked looking things up on the internet, or searching for a long lost item in a closet. For me, falling “down the rabbit hole” happens when my brain is allowed to wander into places it should not go. Because of my vivid imagination, I am able to conceive of all kinds of wondrous things. While this makes writing, creating art pieces, and decorating lots of fun, it can also lead my brain to places best left alone.
This vibrant imagination can be my own worst enemy. Wandering into dark tunnels where doubt prevails, my mind conceives of the worst possible scenarios. Lately I have found myself pondering what the next months of winter cold and darkness might be like. I am left with a deep sadness that sometimes even paralyzes me. You see, as I consider facing the holidays without the usual family gatherings and holiday traditions, I am left at a huge loss. After all, I continue to navigate life without my husband, whose death has left an enormous hole. To concede that small get-togethers bundled up in the yard or garage, will replace the usual raucous laughter, tugs at my grieving heart. Gone this year are the times around the dinner table eating family favorites and playing fun games. It is a struggle to navigate the holidays without all the usual family and friends around.
My head knows that staying home is the right thing to do, yet my heart is not on board at all with the prospect. This longing I feel for things to be “back to normal,” whatever that it is, robs me of life in the here and now. I know I can’t go back to the way things were before the pandemic, but it doesn’t stop me from longing for it. Then I remember about the intentional ways of living that make up a life of mindfulness. Lao Tzu says, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Oh how I long to be at peace!
The same message comes to me from the Creator about not worrying about those things which I cannot control. Matthew’s Gospel talks about not getting worked up about what MIGHT or MIGHT NOT show up in the days ahead. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34, MSG) It’s really hard for me to remember this kind of trust of the Creator. After all, I am strong and independent, so I can surely handle it all myself. Except I really can’t. Once I start down the rabbit hole…. Once I enter the dark tunnel of what if’s….Once I imagine how it will feel to be alone.... I get lost in my own inner dialogue that drags me down, and robs me of the joys that are present right in front of me.
Connecting well with the Creator is what keeps me grounded in the life right before me. That only happens when I put aside my own desire to control things, and allow the Creator to guide me through these hard times. The holidays without family will be very difficult, and yet also very necessary in order to protect one another from the spread of the virus. And so