by Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister

I think the heat has melted my brain.

Either that, or it is the pandemic.

I sit here today having spent the last half hour pretty much starring at this screen. I’m writing a blog. Actually, I haven’t been writing a blog, I’ve been staring at the screen trying to decide what to write about. I’m tired of writing about, talking about, and thinking about the pandemic and what it means to be “coming out of it.” I think you are tired of reading about it, or hearing about it, too.

I want to write about something else.

I thought about writing about a recent political issue, but after the last four years, I’m tired of politics.

Faith? Eh, I preach on that every week.

Relationships? That brings me back to the pandemic.

Community? The same.

So that’s it. My brain is mush.

My uncle was a big fan of porridge. He would cook oatmeal for breakfast, but it wasn’t your typical oatmeal. He cooked it for so long the spoon had to stand up straight in it. It couldn’t lean or move. It had to stand there, perfect forever.

That’s my brain, a big bowl of porridge with a spoon stuck in it.

Perhaps it is good that Elizabeth and I are taking some time off next week. I hope it provides me an opportunity to relax. To stop thinking for a little while. And to stop making decisions. I’m tired of making decisions about what we can do, how we can do it, and when it can happen. See, there I go again with the pandemic talk.

I don’t bring this up so you can feel sorry for me. You can if you want, but it likely won’t change anything. I bring it up so you can look in the mirror. Are you experiencing something similar? Are you exhausted? Burned out? Tired? Worn out?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to suggest you take on any self-care techniques. I’m tired of all that too. Deciding if I’m going to go for a run today, or practice yoga, or eat healthy are all some of those decisions I’m tired of making.

How about you? How are you holding up these days? Are you living large, enjoying life, and feeling finally free following 16 months of pandemic life? Or are you feeling it too? Are you finding that making decisions is still hard, you still feel lonely, you’re still tired of adjusting to another new way of doing things?

If that’s you, where do you find peace and comfort? Where are you finding support? Where are you going to “get away” from it all?

I realized recently (not for the first time) that one of the areas I’m finding peace is in my morning “Peaceful Pause & Prayer.” There’s currently only a handful of us who participate and, under that measurement, it may not be considered “worth my time”. But I know how much I get out of it. Just taking 30 minutes twice a week to relax, read a brief scripture passage, sit in silence with it, and reflect does wonders for me. It doesn’t cure everything – case in point being my mushed brain right now – but it does seem to help me find focus and “get away”.

I also have enjoyed taking the dog for a walk, by myself or with Elizabeth. That is until this heat wave. Now, it’s just miserable. But last week I found myself getting out from behind my desk (and this screen) and taking a short stroll around the neighborhood before coming back for more work. How beautiful those afternoon walks were?

And then there is “veg time”. It’s probably aptly named because it does turn me into a bit of a vegetable. This is when I’m watching TV, reading, or playing computer games. Yup, it’s all pretty mindless, but we need to take some time off and escape from time to time. I’ve come to realize that I like these activities because I feel like I accomplish something with them. The worlds of TV, books, and computer games, fictional as they are, are made better through the actions of the protagonist or me. I don’t always get that feeling in the real world, especially during the pandemic. It often feels like we do a lot of work, and nothing ever changes. That’s wearing. It’s also probably not true. Lots of things change, just perhaps on a smaller scale that I may like! (Think of the story of the starfishes on the beach.)

So, what are you doing? How are you coping with your brain mush these days? Does it help to know you are not alone? Have you found ways to welcome peace, get away, or make a difference? Or is there something else you are holding onto as your anchor? I pray that you find some way of touching God’s blessings and peace for you. You need it. Like me.

And now I’m going to go eat some porridge! (not really, it’s too darn hot!)