Twelve Days

I’ve spoken nine times in the last twelve days. Best I can figure, I’ve spoken to people in at least eight countries, including France, England, Canada, Sri Lanka, Trinidad-Tobago, Australia, Russia, and the US. I’ve preached twice for Left Hand Church and once for Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. I also did an interactive service at Middle after I finished preaching. I did keynote presentations for the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Bouygues (UK) Ltd., and the Cardinal Group. I co-hosted a fund-raiser for TEDxMileHigh and spoke to the speakers for TEDWomen 2020. This evening I will speak briefly for the Denver Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service.

Over a twelve day period I will have spoken live to around 8,000 people, but I will have physically touched not one single human being. That’s right, not one. I live alone and with the rise in COVID-19 cases, both Cathy and I have moved all of our counseling clients online, so no one is coming to the office in my home. Our Left Hand Church services moved from being taped in our church building to being done on Zoom from each of our respective homes, and all of my other face-to-face meetings have been cancelled.

I have been out running and mountain biking every day, but I have talked with no one on my routes. In fact, when I pass another person, we both keep our distance. It has been a very strange twelve days. I’ve loved speaking to so many people and I have received absolutely wonderful feedback. It’s been lifegiving. And of course, I always love preaching. But I miss physical touch. I miss hugging my family, co-workers and friends. We humans crave fleshly contact.

And then there’s an entire democracy teetering on the edge of an abyss, because of one single narcissist and his minions. Let’s not forget about that.

Jael, Kijana, and Trista got a puppy.  Winnie cluelessly eats and poops and teethes and demands attention 24-hours a day and I’ve been through that twice with two dogs and swore I would never do it again. But you know, it’s getting pretty lonely around here. I occasionally keep my co-pastor’s dog, a beagle mix with ideas about who is in charge. Finn, that’s her name, always looks at me with this expression that says, “What?” You know, like, “What? Waking you up at 5:00 am is what I do.”  Or, “What? Going on a run is good for both of us.” You can see the “What?” in the picture above.

Keeping her for a few days is usually enough to dissuade me from getting a dog.  But she is kinda precious, and she does keep me warm at night. But then there’s the hair everywhere, and did I mention she’s part beagle?  Then on my better days I remember the time will come when we can travel again and I fly 100,000 miles a year, which does not bode so well for a dog with her demands.

All to say, I’m lonely. Humans were not made for this kind of solitude. Most of us have a bubble with other humans inside it. My bubble includes dust mites, winter birds that hang around my bird feeders, and the red fox who appears to have plans to winter here. I even miss the bear, you know, the one who was in my garage. If it were now, I’d invite her in for tea and ask tips on how to prepare for hibernation. I mean, there’s a thought. Crawl under the covers and come out when the vaccine is available.

I am grateful to live in Boulder County, Colorado, where people do trust science and generally behave well. The very Republican county to my east has its issues, but I stay away from there nowadays. I don’t need reminders of the power of denial that resides within all of us.

I am hopeful about the fact that our democracy has not yet fallen, and about the coming vaccines. I am grateful for the incoming administration that will set about the nigh-impossible task of healing our land. I look forward to worshipping in the flesh, and seeing clients again, and flying back to New York to be with family and friends in my favorite city on earth.

I am older than dirt, and I’ve been around long enough to know that 2020 too shall pass. We just have to hang in there a little while longer. So, I run in the warm Colorado sun, and Zoom with the world, and subsist on the virtual hugs and dog kisses that come my way. I am blessed.

10 thoughts on “Twelve Days

  1. Hang in there, my friend. I miss seeing you, but, oh! The pure fun of watching a grandchild grow! Never anticipated such joy! This time, too, will pass, and we will wonder why we didn’t accomplish more (although just hearing about your schedule exhausts me) and write daily notes about how totally nuts this time is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do so enjoy your writings. Looking forward to buying your book. This was a wonderful reflection and synopsis … Yes, this too shall pass. Thank you.


  3. Dear Paula, we never met. Some weeks ago i stubled over one of your youtube-videos. Strong women encourage me, you are one of them. Thank you thatfor!
    What you wrote about your selfisolation touched me. I have experienced similar things and feelings in our first lockdown here. Being a socialworker and therapist (in training, nearly finished, personcentered) i did my best to reach out for my clients via phone and online.
    And it became a very weird mixture: on one hand i had at least three times more contact or “airtime” with other than normally and on the other hand i became kind of lonesome.
    For me it became better, when i regulated the “airtime” down to normal working hours. Yet, this odd mix from overload and physical deprivation leached heavily. And i do consider myself being a strong, resiliant woman as well.
    I share that with you to second your words and maybe to make all of us aware, that we need to be careful and tender with ourselfs.


  4. Paula, That is a beautiful dog in the photo.
    I feel for you living alone in the year 2020.
    I hope we get a reliable vaccine soon. I want to travel again.
    I am also fed up with our president’s antics. I wish he would face reality. It’s already been 15 days since the result was called on the 7th. I finally posted about my frustration on Facebook and had to endure the opposition of friends who are loyal Trump followers. Some of my friends were kind and sweet to me, though…so it evened out. PTL!
    Take care and stay healthy.
    God bless you.
    Shirley Looney


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