Pandemic Darkness: Be a light

Suzette Standring
Follow Me
Latest posts by Suzette Standring (see all)

The pandemic continues. Inside-the-house-time translates to inside-of-ourselves-time, and for me, the longest self-reflection period ever. When life opens up again (fingers crossed), we will look back at what we discovered about ourselves and others.  The inner world is vast with surprises in unknown corners.  

During this dark period we might ask, “What have I done to be a light?”

Right now all we have is each other, precious family, friends and pets.  Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote in a song,“In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

How to do that? I’ve turned off bad news and negativity. Don’t politicize the pandemic, it recognizes no parties. I aim to manage my stress levels since I get riled up if exposed too often to absurdity. Fear found in a herd mentality of distress is too easy to mirror.  Being peaceful within myself is a choice.

So I get a little help from my friends. (Photo: Molly, David and Suzette in 2016)

My childhood pal Molly, now a retired teacher, has lived in Paris for over 20 years. She “spreads aloha” by thanking local, open shops with posters.  She paints little pictures, and leaves them on the street for strangers that read, “You’re Beautiful” or “What Good Have You Done Today?”


In March, when I faced lung cancer surgery, the time and distance between Massachusetts and France disappeared. She rallied childhood friends on the east and west coasts and texted,  “We’re saying a rosary for Suzette every day at the same time.”

I objected, “Molly, don’t do that.  Just ask them to pray how ever and whenever they want.”

“No,” she said, “there’s power in group energy and intent, and the rosary is a powerful prayer.”

Those Catholic schoolgirl roots, long untapped, run deep, and I teased her saying, “Check you out, Madonna Molly, with your novenas and ‘St. Ant-nee’ candles.” But she was serious, and surprisingly, everyone agreed to be part of it. I felt that group love every day at 2 p.m. ET and I believe it tipped things in my favor.

Later Molly started a text thread, “Les Artistes” and challenged us to make little art cards every day.  I was reluctant (no talent or experience), but Molly focused on fun. Now, it’s my morning highlight to check WhatsApp to see who painted what for the day. 

At first, I only saw bad proportions and misalignments, and I labeled my style as primitive. But now, maybe I’m just a folk artist.  The practice has taught me to be kinder to the little girl inside of me who loves to draw. Plus, daily play with lines and colors keeps me out of bad neighborhoods in my mind.

I’ve replaced grumbling about inside-the-house-time with the unlimited wonder of inside-myself-time.   A toast to loving, creative friends who are here just when we need them most. If you look, there are lights everywhere.  Be one and take others on the journey.

(Sketches by Suzette: Zebras on Day 79 of the Pandemic and Monk with an iPhone)

This column ran nationally through GateHouse/More Content now on 5/19/2020 and The Patriot Ledger.