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Flexibility and Restrictions

Hey #ACPNotCancelled!

I write to you again from my apartment at 65 Quai d’Orsay, this time feeling a little mixed. On the one-hand I am optimistic for the greater freedoms what will become available to us on May 11. I am excited to be able to be outside without needing a hall-pass and to be able to see some my friends for the first time in many weeks. But I am also a little nervous that this greater freedom will also equal a greater risk for myself, and my larger community. The politics of government restrictions for the sake of public health has become surprisingly polarizing, especially in America, which to me has only made the ethics of moving toward some sense of normality in our daily lives more difficult to discern. I trust the French government a lot more than the American right now but recognize that no state is perfect. Even the French government has begun acting against expert recommendations and against the wishes of over 300 municipality mayors including Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo with the May 11th softening.[1] Which is disconcerting, and complex.

In the midst of all this uncertainty within myself and in the broader world, I am still trying to live my life as normally as I can, and it’s kind of hard. I am a planner through and through, it’s what allows me to maintain a sense of control in uncertain times, but with this pandemic it has become difficult to plan anything from future jobs, to post Paris housing, to vacation plans, to what I am going to do next week. I’m sure as you are reading this, many of you have been encountering many of the same types of difficulties. Whenever my life feels out of control, I plan. My plan gives me a sense of security and direction when I would otherwise feel overwhelmed or out of control. But right now, planning for anything can feel more destabilizing than securing.

Essentially, this time is requiring me to practice a somewhat new skill, flexibility. Being flexible is something I think a lot of us may struggle with. The idea of having had a solid plan to do one thing, and then all the sudden finding yourself needing to pivot is challenging. There are a lot of reasons I was planning the specific things I was planning, from gaining more work experience before entering an impossibly tough job market, to fulfilling lifelong dreams of travel. This process, however, has led me on a path of reflection with scripture. Particularly with the disciples who had plans to follow Jesus and learn from him for many years, only to find themselves adrift a sea upon his crucifixion.

For much of my life, I have thought that I understood what this experience might have been like for the disciples to have their sense of security and purpose ripped away in a single moment, but I did not. After Christ’s death, their robust plans for the future now seemed impossible. The reaction for some was to gather and regroup, for others it was to go away, for others it was to doubt Christ’s power over death, but all of them included an element of mourning, and sitting with their pain. But the story doesn’t end there, because Christ rose! This again radically changed their thinking and became a cause for reimaging their future. Christ conquered death, but the future plans of the disciples still needed to shift. They needed to become flexible is ways many of them may have doubted even possible.

Are the parallels between the situation of the disciples and our situation now very different? Yes, of course. But I have found hope and inspiration in the example of the disciples as people who were able to pivot and be flexible to changing circumstances because they believed in the hope of Jesus and in the resurrection.

My prayer for us this week is that we are able to reimagine together what it means to be flexible in our lives personally, and collectively. To remember that we can look to the example of the disciples who took time to mourn, and then were able to find hope for the future, even though it was different than what they previously imagined. And my prayer is that you know that no matter where we are at in all this, and no matter how you are feeling, your emotions are valid. If you find yourself hopeful, or mourning, or excited, or scared, your emotions are valid. But also have hope that no matter what happens, there is hope in Christ, and we will adapt to whatever challenges we face.

Body

One of the plans that has shifted for me very recently is the fact that I hurt my shoulder this week and cannot exercise how I want to because of it. So I have pivoted to doing a little more running and cycling than I was before. I am trying to listen to my body, and to keep going with my goals for fitness even though they have shifted.

For those of you who have been reading this blog consistently, you know that every week I am suggesting a specific activity. My hope with this is not that you do a different thing every week, but that you find something helpful to you and stick with it! :)

With that in mind, here is a helpful blog for body-positive fitness and all-around wellness that you might like!

https://jessikneeland.com/

Mind

I’m not entirely sure this fits in the “mind” segment super well, but I saw these two videos and they both made me think and im in charge of what this section is anyway! Haha

This is a reflection from older adults on aging recorded over younger adults who uncover the emotion of the reflections through dance.



This video from NPR the process of sampling in hip hop and its really interesting.



There is an explicit language warning but it’s pretty clean :)

Soul

For your soul this week. I want to encourage you to find a church or a ministry that you enjoy and maybe tune into their service. This time is really odd for ministry in general, but it has opened up a unique opportunity to engage with other Christian communities around the world in a really cool way!

[1] Press, The Associated. “The Latest: Macron Criticized for Opening Schools next Week.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, May 5, 2020 https://apnews.com/7ac01019c566034347c87a225444452f.

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