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Today I needed a sanctuary, a place to withdraw from the clutter on every available surface in my living room and kitchen, from the unmade bed and the pile of dirty towels.

When I had to move without notice from a water-damaged condo to a rented apartment February year ago, I turned the wee-tiny third bedroom into office space that I have seldom used. I prefer working at the breakfast table in my open living room, where I can see the Dallas skyline from my windows.

“But I need structure in my life, and I need a Sabbath,” I blogged last Sunday. “There is nothing external to provide discipline, so long as I don’t run afoul of social distancing rules. Eleven days into almost-total isolation, I am only beginning to impose some order in my own life. My mind has been too scattered, too overwhelmed by the stress of hygiene and sanitation on the one hand and the need for food on the other.”

This past week I managed to impose a little order to my life—a routine of making my bed each morning and leaving the kitchen in good order before I go to bed each night. My breakfast table has the scattered pieces of my ordinary daily life (so much undone), while the kitchen island is the command center for my whole struggle to cook and eat every meal at home. I add variety to my meals by eating in different places—a clear spot on the island counter or the breakfast table but on special occasions, looking over the freeway to the tall trees that shade the popular M streets of Dallas, with my back turned to the clutter and the TV.

My little office is where I come to focus. It’s where I write and where I deal with financial and legal issues. There’s no clutter here to distract me. This morning I made it a sanctuary. I Zoom worshiped with 68 other households at the First Congregational Church of Nantucket. What a joy to see everyone’s faces! I was especially moved by the music in the Old North Vestry, where the congregation has gathered continually for worship since 1625. This is not the first hardship that sacred space has witnessed. What great a cloud of witnesses…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV

east toward Wilshire

I decided yesterday to make the first day of the week special, a day of worship and renewal and relaxation. I can change the sheets and wash the towels and deal with the emails tomorrow. That meant a special noontime Sunday dinner. I set the table—even a linen napkin—to look across the treetops, where I discovered I can see the steeple of Wilshire Baptist Church, my Dallas church home, less than three miles from my apartment.

Next I went to Wilshire livestreaming, where ministers led worship from the organ, platform and pulpit of an empty church, with lay readers and even the children’s choir participating from home. We had communion! We were invited to gather whatever elements we could find, and our senior minister officiated from his kitchen. It was a blessing.

Palm Sunday meal

I quickly cooked a special meal, a juicy hamburger steak topped with leftover grilled onions and mushrooms, with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a couple of spoonfuls of gorgonzola cheese crumbles; warmed up hash-brown potatoes; and fresh asparagus in butter sauce.

I’m spending the afternoon in reflection and in connecting with family and friends. In an hour I will enjoy a FaceTime happy hour with Baylor friends, and before I go to bed tonight I will clean the kitchen. Scripture tells us that…

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from of the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2, 3 NIV

April 5, 2020

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Ella Wall Prichard, author of Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widowspublished by 1845 Books, an imprint of the Baylor University Press, in 2018, is under stay-at-home orders in a high-rise apartment building in Dallas, Texas. She posts frequently about her experiences on Facebook and Instagram.

 More of Ella’s inspirational blogs that are available on this site:

  • Bouncing Back From Adversity, August 8, 2015
  • Loneliness: A Catalyst for Change, September 17, 2015
  • Easter Hope: Celebrating Resurrection, March 24, 2016
  • What Are You Looking For? July 6, 2017
  • Commemorating Death, Hoping for Resurrection, April 5, 2018
  • Home Alone: With Whom Do I Celebrate? June 28, 2018
  • An Easter Prayer, at the conclusion of 28 Lenten reflections on Philippians, April 21, 2019