GCC Blog

Manic Monday by Heather Ryburn

The words Manic Monday never rang more true for me than they did this week.

To the sound of my children giggling, squealing with absolute delight while playing in the bath, I lost it! I ran out of the house. I felt overwhelmed. It was simply one decibel, one syllable more than I could handle.

Isolation... distance... these are not terms that I would use to describe my COVID-19 experience. And if they are accurate of yours; my heart and prayers go out to you at this lonely time. However for me; inundated... swamped... surrounded... hemmed in, these are terms I would use to describe my experience. "Self-isolation" sounds like a vague dream to me right about now.

You see, I live with a loving and generous relational extravert for a husband. A curious yet sensitive six-year-old, an observant yet absentminded four-year-old, and a Shakespearean two-year-old who is dangerously close to dropping her day time nap. We are now all
working, schooling and doing life from home. 

And we have an amazing home. Close to the beach and lake which I am abundantly thankful for. But now, there is no school, no preschool, no grandparents, no swimming or dance
lessons, no weekend sport, no playgroup, no surf club, no playdates, no playgrounds, no day trips, no excursions, no zoo, no cafes and no libraries to fill our days. 

Instead, there is a seemingly constant onslaught of WhatsApp's, Messengers, FaceTimes, Zooms, Google Meets, social media, Google classroom, YouTube, Seesaw, streaming, blogposts, articles, text messages, emails and calls from family, friends, friends of friends, school, preschool, church, brands, organisations and clubs. I am receiving correspondence and communication from what feels like every person, platform, or company I have ever signed up for on their response, obligation, changes, apologies, and rallying calls in relation to the current crisis!

Manic Monday! Like many of you, thanks to a perfect storm of our times and technology, I am receiving more communication than ever before. Yet, because of this perfect storm of our times and technology, I have less time than ever to respond or process any of it. So I ran.

As I said, we are amazingly blessed to live opposite a glorious stretch of beach. It is often a place of sanctuary and sanity. On Monday night when I fled, it is here that I ran. When I reached it, it was dark. Gloomy, and clouded over. Staring out to this seemingly bleak sea I finally made out the light of an ill-fated cruise ship. Glancing across to another speck of Light I searched for the doomed cruise ship it was emanating from. Then I realised there was no ship. The sliver of Light I could see glistening on the horizon was from a higher source. Looking up to the dark gloom I realised that behind the clouds was in fact a full, illustrious moon. 

In that moment I felt God speak. I was focusing on the outward. The circumstances. The clouds. But behind it all, or rather within it all, was the moon. The Light. It was always there. I merely had to adjust my perspective. Sure enough, gloriously in that moment, the clouds parted and the sliver of Light that had been on the horizon covered the whole ocean from
headland to headland. The brilliance of the full moon and its all-encompassing Light was revealed.

The Light.

It was always there.

I merely had to adjust my perspective.


Chapter four in 2 Corinthians begins and ends with the same phrase; "do not lose heart".

Whatever your current COVID-19 experience; "do not lose heart".
"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his Light shine in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ... We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our Light
and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
— 2 Corinthians 4: 6, 8-9,16-18.


Do not lose heart. Whatever today brings. Be it loneliness and isolation. Or constant noise and interruption. Do not lose heart. Be it future uncertainty, family conflict, health challenges, financial strain; do not lose heart. Let us, as a church community, be known by the Light that shines within our hearts. Fixing our eyes on Him; the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ. On His unseen eternal Light behind whatever clouds today brings.

How? I hear you ask:

 I have turned off most notifications on my phone. I decide when and how communication will be filtered into my new normal. My mental health and data capacity depend on my ability to navigate the cloud cover.

 I set the bar. Where I can, I am intentionally setting expectations at an achievable level. For us, homeschooling is one activity a day, any more is a bonus. Eggs on toast is an acceptable and popular dinner option.

 Diarising Sabbath. With the usual rhythms of our lives out of kilter, we are diarising and implementing personal space. 

It doesn't look like it used to, but we are snatching what we can where we can by seeking the Light.

 Embracing the new. We are looking for moments of joy in our new normal. Virtual vinos with friends, Zoom discos for the kids, streaming live performances and animal encounters into our living room. We are going on Bear Hunts through our local streets, riding our bikes further than ever before, all while stopping and discovering what has surrounded us all along. This week we were lost in wonder at a procession of a dozen caterpillars along our garden path and took the time to wait and marvel at
their parade.


There will be plenty more Manic Mondays in the months ahead, but how we choose to respond is up to us. And I don't know about you, but I am determined to have less encounters with the clouds that distract and distort, and more encounters with the Light that brings life.