FREE to be FREE from the Pandemic Chaos

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.  As a native Texan and with the ‘stay at home’ executive order expiring May 7, I thought I would share my thoughts and activities on and during the ‘pandemic’.   It has been almost 60 days of fear, panic, social distancing, washing hands and restrictions on all Americans.  We must now put our faith before our fear and rid ourselves of the pandemic of fear. 

Like most people who do not pay too much attention to the drama of what blares on the newscasts we thought we had time to gather items that we had heard were disappearing from the grocery shelves.  We managed to purchase some paper towels and that very elusive commodity, toilet paper, and some disinfectant wipes.  Never, never did I dream what was to follow.

We scurried to the grocery store for the next few days trying to stock up on essential items only to find the store shelves depleted of inventory. That’s when panic struck our state.  The worst and scariest closing was the Catholic Churches in my diocese.  On March 13, 2020 the decree was issued by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller that all churches in the diocese would suspend public masses.  Many parish priests started to celebrate mass via Facebook and YouTube trying to fill the void of attending mass and the loss of receiving the Holy Eucharist. 

It wasn’t until Tuesday, March 31, 2020 that Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to ‘Stay at Home’.  Schools closed right after Spring Break and all large gatherings like athletic games and social events like rodeos were cancelled. 

The first week and most of the second week were difficult and stressful because our pantry was not stocked as we enjoy eating out several times a week. And I would be telling a lie if I said I wasn’t afraid to ‘catch’ this horrific novel virus gifted to us from Wuhan China. 

As the days passed, I had to reacquaint myself with ‘kitchen’ duties. It became manageable, baking our favorite cookies and breads. We learned over again to appreciate cooking and preparing delicious meals. In fact, staying ‘in’ dinning has become more enjoyable.

I might add I always have ‘stuff’ to do and to my amazement I’ve been lying to myself because I have discovered that I have not cleaned out my closet or filed all the paperwork in my command center that has accumulated. I needed to find an activity that would take me away from this covid19 nightmare. 

It occurred to me that it would be a great time to revisit the ranch with my camera. After all aren’t I a photographer? There is plenty of wildlife on our property to keep me entertained, were my thoughts. My list of wildlife to photograph are many.  Luckily it was March, April and May that we were being asked to shelter at home.  Perfect timing for flowers and birds.  Even better that it was a cool March and April and that the May heat is just now beginning. 

So what was a virus nightmare has become a heavenly dose of reconnecting with what matters: family and my ability to document the wildlife that inhabit the property with us. 

This activity has been good for the soul.  A reminder that God is the giver of life, all life, plants and wildlife.  No where can you better see this miracle of life than from actually seeing the flowers from the thorny cactus bloom from buds to vibrant colors that emit positive energy.  How can you not smile when you see the flowers and small animals play hide and seek on the massive trees found on the property?

The birds seem to be singing louder than usual these days.  It’s always quiet but now I notice their cheerful songs. I can now identify more birds than before the pandemic.   

We no longer sit in front of the TV as before and I doubt we will ever settle back to this wasteful activity.  We now have more time to be aware of our surroundings.  The wildlife I have captured have brought me great satisfaction, a raccoon climbing trees for us to see his every move, and the ever playful squirrel, several variety of birds, cardinals are the most common but also mourning doves, the roadrunner and the small chickadees.   A Grey and Red Fox came into my view and I was able to take a few images.  Hopefully I will see him again.    

The list of flowers blooming on our property is boundless.  We have three different colors of Prickly Pear and two varieties of cholla cactus not to mention the barrel cactus.  Bluebonnets were beautiful and abundant this year.  When photographing these wild flowers I have to pay close attention to the natural light touching them.  I am rediscovering the best approach to look at my ‘subject’.  The thistle is just beginning to bloom and the poppy will not show up until later in May.  I have photographed a few ‘new’ flowers I had not seen before to add to my series.   It amazes me the beauty all around us compliments of our Almighty Creator.   

On one of our touring excursions of the ranch we discovered a section that I had not hiked before where huge cedar trees lie dead and some rise to meet the sky.  This is also an area where we found large maple trees with fallen decaying branches lying on the ground.  This area is surreal and reminds me of a prehistoric scene.  Trees have always fascinated me, especially those trees that stand majestic almost in defiance of what life brings.  These trees do not hide their scars but bear them for all to witness. I found a huge old cedar tree that’s on a high ridge by the Guadalupe River that certainly shows that God is present.  How else could this 75 year plus tree survive?

1 John 5:15

And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. 

Ask that the coronavirus will pass and that it doesn’t touch family or friends.  Ask that the victims that died of the virus are granted ever lasting life and that their families find peace and solace.   I am grateful for all healthcare workers that cared for the sick and dying. Very grateful for the priests that celebrated mass for their parishioners via social media. There are so many others that have worked to make our lives calmer during this time together alone.  I thank them all. 

Being bored was not an option. Boredom is a state of mind and the inability to see God’s wonders all around. I found peace in my daily activities by ignoring the chaos; knowing that the novel coronavirus will pass and soon become just a very bad hallucination, we need to look forward to tomorrow. My tomorrow will certainly have more meaning, more family, more friends, more prayer and definitely more photographing. I welcome the safe opening of Texas and the freedom to individually decide to wear a mask, to attend church, and to shop at the stores of our choice. But most importantly that it is God Almighty that will call us when He says it’s over.    



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