August 17, 2020
Imagine. A few years ago, one of my friends gave birth to twin girls who died within days of their birthing. Laura wrote about the process of knowing this pregnancy had turned from full of promise to full of grief. She wrote powerfully and strongly and unapologetically. She let us in on her grieving, and I think that’s one of the hardest and most beautiful gifts anyone can give: to let you see them at their worst so you know the process is both dreadful and incredible. That it is survivable. In one of her posts on the loss of her daughters, Laura wrote about how people often say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” She pointed out something that has stayed with me these years: the person saying this can imagine. That’s all they can do. They can’t feel it or know it or live it. They can imagine it. And while imagining can’t touch the pain, it is the door to empathy. I have been very deliberate about what my imagination can and cannot do since I read her post. And I find myself imagining a lot this year. I imagine the pain of people separated as loved ones go to the hospital without assurances that they’ll return home or be able to say goodbye. I imagine the disappointment of plans cancelled, whether they’re weddings or birthday celebrations or simply the usual getting together that makes us human. I imagine the feeling of brokenness that people who desperately want to go to church are feeling. I imagine the confusion that children feel as they watch the adults in their worlds try to figure out what to do with them and how to best protect and educate them. I imagine the fear that parents are feeling as they navigate home schooling or pack their kids off for first days in school buildings or send children to college miles and miles away. I imagine the worry that teachers have as they prepare to host germ-bombs all day within close proximity, attempting to keep them healthy and teach them something in the process. I imagine a lot. This imagining goes the other way too: I imagine how incredible hugs will feel when we’re comfortable giving them again. I imagine what it will be like to step foot in Ireland again. I imagine how comforting it will be to know that, should a crisis arise and you need to get somewhere, you can go without calculating the risk of transmission and days of quarantine and rations of sanitizing products. I imagine the creativity that’s being fostered as people strive to find solutions to the variety of problems we’re facing. I imagine the way children will rethink schooling and work as a result of their experiences of this pandemic. Part of me wants to shut all of this imagining off, to settle in to the numbness that 2020 desperately wants to create. But that would be to turn away from what this time is giving us: a heart open to others.
August 18, 2020
Find the sweet spot. The stretchiness of yoga is about finding the sweet spot or, as Clara Roberts Oss says, the stretch without the strain. It’s the spot where you feel the pull, the activation, the use of the muscle, but not the pain. It is, indeed, a sweet spot. And it changes day to day. The sweet spots I have now are not what they were a few weeks ago. My body has shifted in this practice. So has the sweetness. It’s hard to find sweet spots in the world these days, to be stretched beyond who we are and challenged to become more. That spot where we aren’t quite comfortable but we aren’t in pain either. That spot where growth is occurring. We are dancing or wobbling between many things. We are called to balance awareness and sanity, intelligence and humility, logic and anxiety. We know what it feels like when we’ve overdone it: exhaustion, sadness, anger, so much frustration, all the fears, a never-ending cycle of thoughts, inability to pull ourselves away from screens that simply increase negative feelings. This is not the sweet spot. We know when we’re not doing enough too: lethargy, numbness, inability to concentrate, unwillingness to engage, too much sleep, escaping into music or books or television, not reaching out to those we love. This is not the sweet spot either. No, it’s between these extremes: dancing after reading an article that enrages, knowing when to engage and when to let trolls be trolls, stepping outside to breathe fresh air, setting boundaries around when news is read or heard or watched, finding sources you trust, letting go of sources you don’t, knowing when it’s time to back away from toxic people, finding activities that make you feel empowered and strong, doing at least one thing each day that settles your soul, looking for humor and laughing hard. We can’t live in a constant state of pain; nor can we live constantly disengaged. We have to find our sweet spots—not just once, but day after day, hour after hour.
August 19, 2020
Thank your body. At thirty-six, my body doesn’t look like it did at twenty-six. It’s rounder, softer, less defined. I used to eat all the things (well, I am picky) and not care. I am more attentive to the eating and the caring now. Health matters, and what we eat very much affects how we feel. When I was twenty-six, as it happens, Shaun died. I became afraid of food. Not anorexic or bulimic, but afraid that I’d get food poisoning and die. Because that’s what anxiety does to the brain. It doesn’t be logical. I dropped fifteen pounds in a week or two because I was living on toast, bananas, and peppermint tea. It was not a healthy approach to food or the body or thoughts. It was terrifying because I knew it was wrong but still couldn’t eat. Slowly, I got through it. I am still wary of certain foods, and occasionally eating is a great act of trust. I have gotten food poisoning in the past ten years, and, surprise, I didn’t die. It’s scary to not trust the things that are supposed to fuel you. It is grace to believe that what you put in your body is good for it and sustains it. Part of me misses the lean and long body I had when I was younger, the look of that body. But I refuse to berate myself for gaining weight. I will not shame this body. At the end of most of her yoga classes, Clara closes by asking practitioners to thank themselves for taking the time to get to the mat. And then she says we should thank our bodies. It is a moment of blessing. We spend so much time wanting our bodies to be something else: skinnier, more flexible, less round, less freckled, more toned, less awkward or gangly, more able. But these bodies we have are quite incredible. When you start thanking it for what it is, you see it as stunning and miraculous. You see the ways your body moves and the strength you have and can build. Our bodies are unpredictable: they hurt sometimes or lose balance or are unable to do certain things. But they are surprising too: they heal and move gracefully (or not) and give and receive love. Our bodies have so much capacity, promise, and ability—even if they don’t look the way we think they should because of some idealized dream. The body you have is beautiful. Take some time today to stand in front of a mirror, naked or not, and thank—bless—this body.
August 20, 2020
Practice. Our dogs aren’t horrible beggars. They don’t steal food from our plates, and they’re just as likely to lay in the other room while we eat dinner as they are to watch us eat. They aren’t stupid, though, so they do tend to get underfoot when we cook. And if they hear a bag of cheese get pulled out the fridge, they appear from nowhere to make their presences known. Cully knows the difference between toast (of which I always give her a bite) and granola (which never gets shared). When they watch us cooking or stand at attention waiting for cheese, Patrick often says, “We have the most optimistic dogs in the world.” Yes, these animals of ours live in hope. It’s a daily thing they do. I am reminded by them that I have to practice who I want to be. Sometimes we slip into the laziness of thinking that because we want to be certain things—wise, kind, gentle, patient, hopeful, brave, just—we are those things in reality. But that’s not how it works. We have to practice these virtues. We don’t commit to them once and call it good. We commit to them every day, in every interaction. We practice them. Over and over again. This reminds me of something Toni Morrison wrote in her novel Paradise: “Love is divine only and difficult always. . . . It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. . . . You can only earn—by practice and careful contemplation—the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it. Which is to say you have to earn God. You have to practice God. You have to think God—carefully.” I wrestle with the idea of having to “earn” God, but I completely understand the idea of “practicing” God. I think that’s what being in relationship—with others, with the self, with God—is. It is practice. It is contemplation of who we are called to be and intentionally practicing that being. There is much to be afraid of. Devolving into fear, uncertainty, hatred, anger, anxiety, and self-protection is a pattern of behavior. It too is practiced. We are not at the mercy of these negatives, despite how overwhelming they might feel at any given time. What are you practicing today? What are you brining forward in your interactions with others, with yourself, with God? Who is it you want to develop into and how do you work on being that person today?
August 24, 2020
Embrace the exhaustion. I didn’t hear about it until this morning. Another shooting of a Black man by police officers. Seven times. In the back. In front of his children. Jacob Blake is in serious condition; his children are no doubt traumatized. According to NPR, he had tried to break up a fight between two women. The Guardian gives no details of events leading up to the shooting, just that he was trying to get in his car. The car where his children were. The story is, of course, developing. But what we know now is that a Black man was shot in front of his children. Can we stop doing this? I am so tired of these stories. I am so exhausted for my Black friends who are living the reality of this fear daily. I am tired of the noise from “All Lives Matter” people when, clearly, all lives don’t matter. I am tired of antiabortion people claiming to be pro-life when this man’s life doesn’t matter one iota to them. I am tired of having to explain what dignity is. I am tired of having to tell people that guns—no matter whose hands hold them—are dangerous. I am tired of living in a country where Black men and women are shot, where Black children witness it if they aren’t shot themselves. I’m tired of carnage. This is a year of carnage. I am tired of it. But here’s the flip side of exhaustion: it tells you that you’re feeling. That you’re paying attention. That you’re not numb. Being tired is a reminder that your heart hasn’t hardened. It is a sign that you need to take care, rest, be gentle, get and give a hug or two, shed some tears, drink something soothing. These are not actions of avoidance; they are sustenance. Being tired is a result of awareness, and if we don’t sustain ourselves in the midst of it, we cannot work to make it different. The exhaustion drains. But it also lets us know we have more to give, more to do, more to become.
August 25, 2020
Put up your guard. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you have to watch what you let into your brain and body. I don’t watch movies or shows that have to do with demonic possession. I won’t watch The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. I did not like the Psych episode that was a riff on this genre. I sat through Paranormal Activity with some grad school friends, and Timothy’s laughter through it was the only thing that got me through. I think there are things we shouldn’t mess with, and demons are one of them. Call me superstitious or weirdly Catholic or whatever. Inviting evil in isn’t a good idea, even if it is just for entertainment purposes. I feel the same way about watching the Republican National Convention. We’re not watching it at our house. I’ll read about it from folks I trust, but I’m not watching clips or speeches. Given the trajectory of the Republican Party, I have a sense of what these days will be. Trump will be Trump. His enablers will be who they have been. We will be lied to, told who and what to be afraid of, and provided reasons for dismissing or devaluing other humans. I don’t need that kind of hate and fear in my head and heart. Am I burying my head in a carefully chosen sandbox? Perhaps. But I prefer to think of it in line with the monastic mothers and fathers: guarding the thoughts and the heart. You have to watch these things or they will run amok. We have to watch our thoughts, and one way to do that is to watch what we see and hear. There is so much to weary the heart these days. I don’t need to add to it by watching things that don’t feed the soul or lift the heart or challenge the brain. You can opt out. It might just be the healthiest thing you do this week.
August 26, 2020
Relax. Yep. I said it. Relax. I’ve been braced all day today. Not anxious or nervous or wired. Just braced, tensed. I’ve done a good job of not looking at my phone after 10:00 each night, and I wait until after writing, yoga, and breakfast to look at anything except weather each morning. But this morning there was a news alert about the two people shot in Kenosha during protests last night; I couldn’t not see it because it showed up on my lock screen. Maybe that’s what started the bracing. And then, even if I’m not watching the RNC, the news and social feeds are full of the RNC. And there’s a massive hurricane heading for Louisiana. And all the fires in California. So of course, I’m braced for more bad news. When you experience trauma, it becomes hard to trust goodness, happiness, relaxation. You start feeling happy at some point in the grieving process, but it’s accompanied by wariness. When I started dating Patrick, I remember telling a friend that I was so happy, but I was just waiting for it to get messed up, for the other shoe to drop. “There might not be another shoe,” she said. I needed those words. We’ve had a lot of shoes drop in 2020. The natural reaction is to remain braced against what’s coming next. It’s logical to do so. It’s instinct to do so. But constant bracing isn’t healthy, so it’s also important to lower the shoulders and take some deep breaths. To be aware of what’s happening but recognize what’s in your power to change and what isn’t. Yes, to relax.
August 27, 2020
Find your metaphor. I have been thinking a lot about quilting lately. I finished a quilt top last weekend, and I’ve started cutting pieces for another project. I have four quilts that need to be quilted (yes, I’m a procrastinator), and I’m looking forward to the cooler weather for that job. My grandmother, the one who taught me to quilt, told me once that she pieces in summer and quilts in winter. I know why: quilting isn’t cooling work. I started quilting after Shaun died. My mom came to visit, noticed I didn’t have a television and was surrounded by so much quiet, and thought perhaps the quiet wasn’t helping the anxiety. A television was purchased, but I needed/wanted something to do besides just sitting there. So the quilting habit was begun. Over the past decade, it has become my metaphor. Metaphors are comparisons; they create a framework, a symbolism, a context. They make what is abstract concrete. Quilting is very much the metaphor for my grief. It’s the cutting apart of a world once whole and the putting it together again in a new way. It’s taking different pieces of fabric, different patterns, and making something beautiful with them. And all of it is held together by threads. It’s scrappy and complicated and tedious and creative. Grief is all of those things too. The fluidity and slipperiness of grief can get very big and very overwhelming. When that happens, grabbing fabric and thread makes it manageable. There have been days I’ve felt that I’m literally stitching my world back together as I put needle through fabric. Each stitch, each block, each quilt has been a way to make sense of what has felt senseless. It might not be sensible yet, but I can wrap myself in the warmth of trying.
August 28, 2020
Wring it out. There are some twisting poses in yoga that I love. Reclined spinal twist is divine. The one where you have one leg straight, the other foot on the floor, and opposite elbow to the knee (that makes sense, right?) is lovely. I hate twisting in chair pose, but I like it in lunges. Much of what we do in a given day is forward, backward, maybe sideways. We don’t really do much twisting. Or we don’t pay attention to it, unless it makes us hurt. Twists in yoga are cleansing. They “wring out” the spine and the guts. They move you in ways you’re not quite used to, but they give you a new appreciation for “coming back to center.” My morning writing time has felt stodgy lately. It’s a thing I do, but I don’t feel like it’s really going anywhere. I keep showing up, though, and I keep putting words on the page. They might not mean much in and of themselves, but the showing up is important. It is discipline and grit and determination and gift to myself. This morning I realized that maybe I don’t need the morning journaling time to “go anywhere.” Maybe it’s like twisting: it’s wringing out my brain after a night of sleep. It’s cleansing. It’s awakening and allows me to come back to center refreshed. I think our world is wringing itself out too. As protests continue because cops keep killing Black people, as the numbers of infected and dead continue to rise, as ugliness and hatred keep surfacing—this is a twisting. It’s not pleasant; it’s uncomfortable. We want to know when we can come back to center. But there is more to be wrung out. You don’t twist one day and be done with it forever; no, the wringing is necessary almost daily. It’s how the spine and core strengthen. The more we twist, the more we breathe into this uncomfortable space, the more we breathe for those who no longer can, the more we wring out the toxicity and ugliness—the stronger we will become. I firmly believe this. Not everyone wants to twist with us; not everyone is capable. But while they stay put, we twist anyway. We show them how. Because sometimes people need to see what growing strength looks like. These days, it looks like a fist raised in protest, masks worn properly, donating money to places doing good work, supporting businesses with ideals we hold dear, saying thank you to the people doing extra cleaning work. We will get to come back to center. It’ll be a very different center from the one we left when we began this twisting.
August 31, 2020
Vocation changes. Does it feel like we are at a crossroad? Or that it’s not even that simple? Maybe that we’re in the middle of an intersection with six different street options and a few sidewalks? Throw a bus, subway, or streetcar track in for good measure. This is a time that is ripe for transformation and transition. There was a time I was going to be a Benedictine sister. It was a decision I struggled with for many years. Once I finally decided to go to the monastery, to leave the life I’d created in Minnesota, the decision suddenly became wrong. What had been right, what I had resisted but known was coming, suddenly wasn’t right anymore. There wasn’t peace in it. I knew it was wrong because of this lack of peace. Catholics grow up hearing about vocations: to married life, single life, or priesthood/religious life. These are permanent—or are believed to be so, even if reality is messy. They are big decisions, and the deciding of them can be overwhelming. But as I’ve gotten older, as I wrestled with my own life vocation, what I realized is that it isn’t just about choosing one of these options. We live vocation daily. We are called daily. For Catholics and Christians, this is a call to live the Gospel in what we do. For Jews, perhaps it is to love the Lord our G-d with heart, soul, and might each day. For atheists and agnostics, perhaps it’s a call to love others and do good because that’s what being human is. For Muslims, perhaps it is to surrender to Allah in everything. That’s the overarching call. Underneath it are little vocations. To be an artist, to care for home and children, to teach, to make food, to advocate for others, to rescue animals, to stock grocery shelves, to listen in a variety of ways. We live a plurality of vocations. I am editor and writer, daughter and wife, friend and practicer of yoga. So how does this connect to a crossroad? A vocation that applied at one time might not at another time. Or one might develop. We never really leave the crossroad. I am growing into this writer vocation. It has been dormant for a while, always a hoped-for thing, but never quite a reality. Since March, that has shifted. Partly because I’ve made time for it, but partly because the time itself became right. This era of pandemic and protest is not arid; it is not parched or lifeless. It can be rich and transformative. It can reveal more of ourselves. It can be a time of great peace. Not serenity or tranquility. I mean “peace” in terms of knowing you are where you belong or working toward creating the life you are called to. Frederick Buechner wrote that “God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” That meeting place is peace. It shifts, and we must work to keep it in sight, to be aware if we are being called to shift as well.
September 1, 2020
Embrace surprise. Piggy-backing off of yesterday’s post, I think surprise is a key element of vocation. I had an acquaintance who knew I was going to join the monastery. She visited Saint John’s after I was supposed to have left and wanted to know why I was still there. “Well, it wasn’t right anymore,” I told her. “I’m as surprised as anyone.” “Ah,” she said, “That’s how you know it’s from God.” I think there was much wisdom in her observation. As someone with anxiety, I prefer what is predictable. I like control; I like knowing what’s coming. Things that are out of the ordinary are disconcerting, uncomfortable, unsettling. But God comes to us in the surprises: as a burning bush, in a whisper rather than a whirlwind, as a baby in a manger. God calls those who are least likely: the youngest son, an unwed virgin, all sorts of reluctant men and women who become prophets and disciples. We too are called to be surprised. This doesn’t have to be a God thing, though that’s the lens through which I see surprises. It can be nature doing what nature does, which still takes our breath away. It can be that thrilling of the heart and butterflies in the stomach that tells us we are on to something new and delightful, even if there’s a touch of wariness and fear mixed in. Yesterday I wrote about being at a crossroad. We think vocation is standing in that crossroad and choosing a path. One reason I struggled so greatly with “choosing” vocation was that the paths seemed irreversible; you choose one, and then all other roads close. But more often finding vocation is noticing that there’s a field of wildflowers over there that we need to go check out. If we’re not open to surprise, we never notice the wildflowers.
September 2, 2020
Acknowledge the inner crab. I ran errands yesterday. There were people out there. They bugged the hell out of me. There were people flagrantly disobeying the mask mandate by not wearing masks at all. There were others who decided that the suffocation of masks is really annoying and they didn’t need to be bothered the whole time they were in the stores, so their masks were pulled down while they breathed on all the things. Some guy on Facebook wanted “context” for why someone with a skateboard was beating up on a kid with a AR-15 who was shooting people. I shared the link to Google and suggested he find his own “context.” People were a bit much for me yesterday. So I took a nap, did some work, made a galette. I’m struggling with people. Even our friends. I love them and I miss them. But it takes me a while to settle in to being with them when we get together. (Safely, outside, distantly.) Patrick and I have our routine; my work permits me to keep people at arm’s length; I am an introvert. All of these things make the isolation of quarantining pretty simple. Yes, there is restlessness and wanderlust and annoyance. But I am quite content, on the whole, to be where I am in my very small bubble. One of my grad school professors used to talk about pious people who were jerks or didn’t care about helping their neighbors: “They think they love God because they don’t love anybody.” Those words came back to me as I was mentally preparing another Facebook retort to “context” guy while driving from one store to another. I rolled my eyes in Fr. Kevin’s heavenly direction and grumbled something about just wanting to be pissy. The paradox of this quarantine age is that we are caring for or loving others by being physically distant from them and wearing masks that hide our faces, but we are also becoming wary of, annoyed by, or judgmental toward others when they do not act the way we think they should. Our care and our critique are both heightened. No wonder we’re crabby. We have expectations and they are so very rarely met these days. But these people who are around us, driving us batty, they’re doing the best they can. Mostly. Some of them aren’t, and it’s best to just leave them be. But the rest—they’re just as tired and confused and scared as we are. Our inner crabs are much closer to the surface, perhaps, than normal times. These are not normal times, so we need to make room for that crabbiness, let it surface, wave its claws around for a bit, scuttle from one side to another. Then maybe we need to take a nap and remember that loving God involves loving these people who irritate us so very much.
September 3, 2020
Break. Friends have been posting about being broken, shattered, torn apart. Friends feel disconnected, isolated, restless, blah. I feel numb, snarky, and tired. We are all working so hard to hold all of it together. We’re attending to workplaces and schools changing or not or being constantly in flux; we’re washing hands and wearing masks and mad at those who aren’t; we’re exercising more or being lethargic, maybe both on the same day; we’re trying to get from here to November 3 in one piece; we’re seeing that the protests have to continue because cops keep killing Black people and certain segments of our population think this is acceptable; we’re being met with news of brutality from police, government forces, and random kids who get their hands on guns; we’re confronting the reality of how we perpetuate systemic racism; we’re drawing battle lines in churches about who is or is not Catholic, who is or is not Christian, who is or is not sinning. We are holding. We are straining. But here’s something I know: we grieve for a reason. We shatter in the midst of grief. We break open and let ourselves be raw, feel the overwhelming power of emotion and things beyond our control. We are laid flat and cannot deal. There’s a platitude that often accompanies tragedy: God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. To that I say, “Bullshit.” God gives us so much, and sometimes it is more than we can handle. God breaks us. God pushes our buttons and drives us up the wall. And God is big enough to take our frustration with this fact. God doesn’t pick us up and carry us along the beach. No, God sits there with us in the muck and mire and holds the pieces for us. She gathers them together, the Great Collector. At some point, in our brokenness, we become ready to to put one piece with another; we become puzzlers. Sometimes we glue the pieces back together; sometimes we let them sit, unsteady and unglued, in case we need to move them about for a bit. Even if you don’t believe in this Divine Accompanist, that’s fine. You too break; you too are an artist who puts yourself back together over and over again. All of us have chipped paint, cracks, ragged edges. We break and we mend. We aren’t meant to hold all of this perfectly right now. It is too much. Let yourself break: cry it out, scream, rage, kick a ball really, really hard, curl up in the fetal position, sleep, run as fast as you can down the street, turn up the music as loud as it will go. Shatter. But make sure you come back: settle your shoulders, dry the tears, drink lots of water, walk, listen to soothing music, talk gently and kindly to yourself and others, look at the trees, feel some sun, invite a friend to join you for a drink on the patio, drink more water. Shattering doesn’t mean we’re broken forever; it means we get creative about putting the pieces back. And they don’t have to go back precisely the way they were. Therein lies the magic of breaking.
September 4, 2020
Create a ritual. We are big Kansas City Irish Fest fans. This is the eighteenth year for the Fest, but like most things this year, it’s not the same. Usually, Patrick and I head to Kansas City on the Friday before Labor Day; we meet up with my family and head to Crown Center to kick off the festivities. Weeks of researching musicians and planning schedules have prepared us for this moment. Drink tickets are purchased; the Visitation beer tent is found; food trucks are scoped out. Vendors are perused; Patrick and I plot which tile we’ll get from Earthen Craft Pottery; I keep my eyes open for a sweater or scarf that must be added to my collection. During super hot years, we take refuge in Crown Center every so often; when it rains, we scamper under whatever tent is nearby; we are not fair-weather festers. Through it all, we dance to, marvel at, and sing along with musicians we’ve known of for years and others who are new discoveries. For three days, we fest; on Labor Day, we drag our weary selves north to home and pets and normal life. Before 2017, we dreamed of a trip to Ireland, vicariously visiting it during the Fest; after our first trip, we used Fest time to reminisce about how delightful it was to go there and prepare for our next March trip. This year isn’t like that at all. There are no tents or vendors or drink tickets. I imagine Crown Center looks forlorn. Irish Fest is my event, the one I want to have happen and am sad isn’t. For other people, it has been other concerts or celebrations, family gatherings or travels. I’ve missed other things, of course. That aforementioned March trip to Ireland, for example. But I’m missing Irish Fest a lot today. My mother taught me the importance of ritualizing. Being Catholic did too, but mom gave me the gift of honoring and celebrating what you miss. On Dad’s death anniversary, we always went to the cemetery and poured a Coke on his grave; even now, for Christmas, we sing “Jingle Bells” to his headstone. After we’ve said goodbye, we march over to where my uncle Kevin is buried and say hello to him. The cookies and milk I have on Dad’s anniversary, the beer on Shaun’s—these are communion. I learned to create space for what’s missing. Today I’m ritualizing the Fest: Irish music is playing; I’m wearing one of my souvenir shirts; soon I’ll write an e-mail to the Earthen Craft Pottery people and tell them how much we miss seeing them. It’s nowhere near the same, but we can still make it special. New ways of being are coming to light this year, and much as we may resent their having to be, there is goodness in recognizing the important things that aren’t what they were. Someday we’ll fest again. Until then, sláinte!