Quarantine Challenge Winners

We recently challenged members of our Southern Christian Writers Conference Facebook group to write about the quarantine. The piece could be any type of writing, but had to be 300 words or less and had to reveal some truth that the coronavirus pandemic had taught them.

Our writers rose to the challenge and provided us with some wonderful submissions. It was extremely difficult to narrow the contest down from all of the selections, and we want to commend ALL of you for the writing you did. Each essay and poem truly inspired us; they reminded us that God can work in any situation--even an isolating, life-changing quarantine.

Here are the three we've selected as our top winners.

"Quarantined in Quietude"

by Kathy K. Norman

I breathe in the soft spring air

As I gently rock in my outside chair

Listening to the chickadees

As sunlight dances through the trees

The climbing rose winds up the fence

Iris blooms are thick and dense

With yellow and purple and white and pink

And wildflowers are on the brink

Of overtaking the planted rows

While inside my soul the notion grows

That though this time is strange and odd

Peace dwells here and so does God

This slowing down is unexpected

With all the plans that I’ve projected

Perishing before my eyes

And now the only thing that lies

In the waiting of these days

Is tranquil solitude as I gaze

At hummingbirds that zoom and flit

Not minding me as I sit

In this unforeseen space of splendor

Quaintly beautiful and tender

Filled with grace and gratitude

Quarantined in quietude

"Simple Things"

by Leroy Hurt

Simple things delight the most, and simple pleasures last the longest.

"I like to watch the grass grow" was a go-to joke in 2020 BC (Before Coronavirus). In 2020 AD (After Disinfecting), not so much. Simplicity now rules the day. Walking a little trail in Munny Sokol Park in Northport, Alabama became a refuge from Zoom meetings and emails at work, the birds' chirps and songs merrily contrasting with the dings, rings, and tones of our organization's communications systems. The trees on either side of the trail seemed like a tunnel, a green wall protecting my attention from distractions.

At the halfway point, I sat on a bench along the trail and met a squirrel clinging to the side of one of those trees. Rather than scampering away, the squirrel stared me down. Our unspoken conversation seemed to be about Jesus's words in Matthew about getting reassurance from the lilies and birds enjoying God's provision. The squirrel was not built to fret about the future any more than we were when God put the first man and woman in Eden to work it. Now, such anxiety takes its toll on our health and relationships. One member of the men's group I'm part of said he was so happy to be able to at least be around his family more regularly during the shelter-in-place instead of staying late at the office as he was accustomed to doing.

Moving farther on the trail, sunlight began to penetrate the wood as the tunnel of trees thinned out and gave way to the open field where I was parked. It was indeed a light at the end of the tunnel, not only the light of discovering a lesson in simplicity but also the promise of a simple eternity to come.

"What I Learned from Quarantine"

by Kaci Lane Hindman

As crazy as it sounds, quarantine gave me my life back.

When COVID-19 hit the United States, I was up to my armpits in kids' school obligations and activities (dance, gymnastics, baseball) as well as running a business and having numerous responsibilities at church. Of course, taking care of my kids and serving the Lord meant my life was on the right track, right?

Wrong. When you're up to your armpits in anything, it eventually starts to stink Even good deeds with great intentions can go sour.

Like Martha (Luke 10: 38-42), I had assumed doing "good" would justify taking on more and more until my health and happiness began to suffer. After all, I did it all for God and my kids.

But God never asked me to do most of it. And, funny enough, my kids have seemed happier now that I have more time to play with them. In quarantine, I'm not running around, waiting in carlines, and hustling to make back-to-back events with a Chick-fil-A drive through sandwiched in between.

My husband used to always ask me mid-week if we had any plans for the weekend. During the first few weeks of staying at home, he asked me out of habit. Then, he started asking me as a joke. It felt so refreshing to say "nothing." All joking aside, quarantine has taught me that I needed to slow down and enjoy my life.

While I'm happy church is starting back soon and my kids will get to resume their activities in some form, I don't intend on gearing back up to full speed. Instead, I will pray about what God wants me to do with my time instead of doing what I feel obligated to do.

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