As I was out walking the dog yesterday morning (our mornings have cooled off considerably and I truly need to get back into the habit), I was taking a quick inventory of groups of people that have effectively fallen off of the list of the people I see on a regular basis.
The larger Church group, of course - our church has just restarted in person services at 25% (and I have no great desire to force my way back into that yet). The smaller group - faith group, community group, life group, they have various names - that we had been a part of for the last 4 years or so (they do meet electronically, but it now feels much more like just another work meeting). The coffee ministry I served on periodically at Church.
Work acquaintances of course - either by physical separation or (more and more) as they have left the company to move on. A lesser host of characters that were part of my regular stops at the grocery store or used book stores. And I have not thrown since November of last year and have scarcely spoken physically to anyone in that realm.
What that has left - beyond my immediate family - is my Iai group and the regulars at the rabbit shelter I volunteer at. Or in other words, effectively, 66% of my regular connections are in abeyance.
How do I feel about this, I wondered as Poppy and I kept pace around the neighborhood with its flickering outdoor lights as the sky slowly lost its starry cast?
Not as bad as I might have anticipated six months ago.
The Church, as you know if you are reader here, is something I have been struggling with off and on in terms of their direction and my spiritual growth (or lack thereof) over the last year or so, so this has been less of a "loss" and more of a distancing period, along with those sub groups (community group and coffee) that went along with it. The fact that both of these have disappeared with little fanfare should tell me something about where I am with all of that (to be fair, I do miss serving coffee. That was a very easy way to be of service).
The work acquaintances have been hard - but honestly, given Hammerfall and the change in position, were something that was going to occur anyway. And perhaps, needed to - there is never anything so hard for a new leader as for an old leader to still be in the background, no matter how non-threatening the presence. And people have always moved on. The Plague has just accelerated this process.
The Highland Games I have missed for the camaraderie (I am really not that good) but frankly has not been a focus as I have turned more of my attention to Iai. I surely miss the people but it is like a family group you only see periodically during the year; you learn to adjust.
For the groups I do see - Iai and the Rabbit Shelter - the cadence seems about right: about two and a half hours a week in total, split between actually work and the few minutes of talking before and after. Enough to stay involved and interact but not uncomfortable to worry about overspending the time.
Going home more regularly has helped in this regard as well, of course: seeing old friends and my parents on a more regular basis with more meaningful conversation has filled a gap that was somewhat left open by the larger spread but less deep relationships I had here.
Fumbling with my keys to get back into the warmth of the house and the coffee I knew was present, I realized that while there have been many difficult things about The Plague, the slow rearrangement of relationships had not been one of them.
Almost, it seems, as if they were being remodeled for a purpose.