Hello to the community of the Alpha Omega House and all you readers out there!
What a strange and unprecedented time we are living in, huh? And an interesting month to commence the exciting new venture that is the AO Blog. We deeply hope you have stayed healthy over the course of these past few months. We are praying for your wellbeing and that of your friends and family: physical, mental, financial and all!
Although Corona Virus might be the last thing you want to read about (and honestly the last thing a person wants to write about), it is the sign of the times. Years from now, when you, me, a prospective student, friends and family are looking back, we’ll want to remember this season for what it was, not what we’d be trying to make it by not mentioning COVD’s impact on our lives here at the AO.
When Spring Break made clear that our students would not be returning to finish out the semester, life at the AO took a slight turn for those who remained. Our leadership team had many conversations developing policy, determining best practices, and just trying to make the “next best move” in this ever-changing sea of safety precautions.
It all started with exactly what you might have expected: a head-to-toe deep clean of your’s truly, the Alpha Omega House, sleeves rolled up and music blaring. As far as quarantine goes, this hasn’t been a bad place to do it and a good ol’ deep clean wasn’t a bad way to start!
Six students remained in the House for the majority of Shelter in Place, slowly coalescing under the new circumstance that was (and still is) COVD-19. Funny little “you had to be there” habits started popping up, like reading horoscopes from the daily paper to lighten the mood, telling us “how we’re supposed to feel” as a mock change in the monotonous march of life in quarantine. Over mugs of steaming coffee, the crosswords were completed with increasing perfection before morning walks by the river and other such lovely frivolities.
The living room saw a steady rotation of zoom class after zoom class; “okay who gets it at 11:00??” Just as frequently, Shawn T’s Hip Hop Abs and live-streamed yoga classes were woven into the common space’s new tapestry, with Pictionary making one or two appearances of its own. The roof, allegedly, was host to a few evening picnics and mid-afternoon tanning appointments. The kitchen accommodated more than one dance party; the television, witness to unparalleled episodes of New Girl, Carpool Karaoke and Saved by the Bell.
We had to make the difficult decision of asking Lisa, our dear cook and friend, to stay home as we adapted to a minimal-traffic lifestyle. Graciously, our interns cooked dinner most nights, which was still a wonderful way to spend intentional time as a group. We traveled the world with our cuisine and attire, having themed dinners starring music and ambiance of wherever suited our fancy. We even visited home. One by one, we took turns cooking meals from Mom, Dad, great Grandma or Uncle Tim to share a little piece of the home-baked pie, so to speak.
One of our students (whom we just celebrated with a little graduation party on the back patio, cap, gown, Pomp and all) chose to quarantine at the local fire station where he volunteers so he could still respond to calls. A boxed-up, homemade meal on the station’s front step was the least we could do to show our appreciation and connect at a distance!
We’ve seen many such small joys. Drive-by birthday celebrations, surprise cookie deliveries, outdoor dinners, Easter packages and more. Although we have not been together, Corona is no match for this tight-knit community.
The back patio saw it’s spring makeover, with plant beds trimmed and raked, furniture unpacked and ready for warm weather festivities, the lawnmower put to use, and the bike pavilion once again enjoying regular visitors. Time is marching forth! However warped and wonky it may seem.
Somehow, we are already transitioning from the school year into summer. As our students trickle back from hither and yon to clean their rooms, which sat empty for the last half of spring semester, we are reminded of not only the bountiful laughter we shared but the sting of lost time.
It was a wonderful year, no matter how quickly it seemed to fly. (You know what they say about time when you’re having fun, after all…).
We kicked off the year with another treasured retreat on Lake Mary Ronan, all thanks going to our dear friends who once again welcomed us into their “home away from home.” Before we knew it, the days spent floating the Clark Fork river waned into pumpkin carving, Harry Potter Halloween parties, “Pass the turkey!” and decorating stockings to hang upon the blazing mantel.
After the Holidays, several of our own launched into the new year with another blessed trip to serve cancer kiddos in El Salvador with Campamento Esperanza, quickly followed by the yearly trip to Washington DC for the National Prayer Breakfast..
Even from the top of the world, who could have seen this coming?? Certainly not us. When worlds are shaken, it becomes easy to lament the time we’ll never have and to question the quality of time we did:
I should have accepted that hiking invitation… If only I had just stayed up for that movie… Oh, if only we could have finished the year off together… What if? What if? What if?
The truth of the matter is, each moment is sacred and time is passing as it should and always does. It is no time to yearn for what wasn’t and never will be.
Yet another school year, of blessings and trials alike, is coming to a close. Only with the recognition of how this year’s experience has shaped us can we begin to build a future as a House, community, and for ourselves as individuals.
We would have rather spent this time with all of our people, but the Greer’s have instead spent it with their immediate family and focussed on the direction of the Alpha Omega House, which has been a blessing in itself. In addition to the blog (woohoo!), this summer we will be doing more to expand guest rentals, which we hope will include retreats of various kinds, catering to the needs of the wider community and sharing our home with others through VRBO and Airbnb.
So! If you have a family reunion coming up, are looking for a nice location to host your business or church retreat, or just about anything in between, don’t hesitate to reach out! Or heaven forbid, you reach out just to say hello… ;-)
As we move toward normalcy, we hope you all stay well. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces and to the days where we can greet each other with warm hugs and laughter.
Until then, we’ll be here, together at a distance.
Blessings to you all.
written by Sarah Griffin, former resident.