'Walden' inspires me while I am waiting

"Will the Corona virus be over tomorrow?" my two young daughters asked. "When will we be able to go somewhere again?"

I struggle to find an answer that satisfies my inquisitive 5-year-old. As the weeks stretch on, I yearn for a sense of normal. When will we go to back the office and school? Will grocery shopping ever feel ordinary again?

So much about our lives has suddenly changed. It's habit. We tend to define our days by what we have going on and where we are going. So, what happens when our nation and world must stay in place?

As we fight this battle against a terrible virus, how do we define our days? Waiting even in the best of circumstances is difficult. As my husband, a doctor, heads out to work the uncertainty rattles my nerves. He does his best to try to stay well. We have a new routine these days. When he gets home from the hospital, I open all the doors as he races in to wash his hands and shower all the potential virus away. The anxiety of what his day might bring can be overwhelming sometimes.

I try to push my own fears aside, determined to find some meaning and purpose with our time at home. We take frequent walks to get out. The sunshine and crisp air give me hope. My thoughts drift to a trip I took years ago to Walden pond. I think of the small cabin and the water's shore.

Henry David Thoreau retreated to the woods to meditate and feel a greater closeness to nature. In "Walden," Thoreau asks us to open our eyes to see the truths of life hidden by all of our daily business.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived," he wrote.

Those seemingly urgent matters and appointments I once had, have now been indefinitely postponed or canceled, making room for my thoughts. All this waiting has caused me to think deeply about what really matters. Waiting for the unknown takes a deep faith. As I have grown older, I have come to know that faith is more of an attitude. It's actively hoping and believing in the things we cannot see and control. As I look within, I am determined to seek the good.

Watching, I see it in the faces of all those who are helping. I see it in the small things, too, like text messages, phone calls, long distance waves and prayers. Worries still have a way of creeping up on me, but I do my best to live in the moment.

Like Walden, this time has allowed me to reflect on the things that really matter - family, friends and faith. So, while I am waiting, I might live more fully with a renewed sense of gratitude, love and purpose.

- Amy McCauley of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].