I am always learning the same thing:
there is no other way to live than this,
still, and grateful, and full of longing.
Eric Gamalinda, 1956

Farrell Mason brings her beautiful gifts to Bacon today with a meditation on fear, upheaval and faith in the Time of Corona. She and her husband have six kids at home… if she can stay sane, we all can.

Hi Farrell! Where are you and your family weathering the storm? How in the world are you managing six school-age children at home? I am IN AWE.

Good morning! We are at home in Nashville – husband, six kids ranging from my eldest Charlie who is seventeen to Finn who has just turned four, and of course our four dogs – it’s quite the menagerie! My dream of having my own French cafe one day has become a reality. I am cooking for eight people, three meals a day. I am head chef, but thankfully I have many sous-chefs! We have an eight-foot chalkboard hanging in the kitchen where one of the kids chalks out the “menu du jour” and a weekly word of encouragement. With so many people under the same roof 24/7, routine is so important – and a sense of humor – and music! One perk of having so many kids is lots of helpers to fold laundry, mop floors and do dishes. My house has never been so clean. Dinner is the highlight of the day! We set the table with candles and flowers and linger longer than ever before. A silver lining of Corona is all these jeweled moments – sacred, that we often miss because of our too busy lives, and for what?

Are you able to comply with our “shelter in place” order?

We are taking the “shelter in place” very seriously. We have friends in France, New York and Nashville who have really struggled with the virus. Not to mention, family and friends in the medical field who are braving the front line on our behalf.

What’s the greatest hardship so far; what do you miss the most?

I am sad that my Vanderbilt graduate classes have moved online. Zoom is great but it doesn’t come close to sitting in the classroom with a professor, and the camaraderie of fellow students!

Is there anything you are secretly or not so secretly enjoying?

I LOVE being at home with all my people. It’s wild and wonderful and I know I’ll probably never get this time again. Walking around the house today listening to my son Charlie mangle French in his zoom classroom, Belle taking dance classes in the kitchen, Rose and Percy drawing tree houses at the kitchen counter while Elise and I make my famous “love muffins,” even the very real struggle of trying to keep a wily four-year old entertained is giving me ridiculous joy. I am also relishing not feeling rushed all the time! A secret perk of Corona is all teenagers are home on Friday night! I have five sisters, 24 children between us, and we have been gifted with some extra sweet time to share, giggle and support one another. I am especially loving the additional time to do my beekeeping, as we are at the cusp of the new season! Many beautiful things are happening because of Corona. I have a feeling they will change us all for the better.

I know you are an excellent and enthusiastic cook. Are you spending more time in the kitchen or about the same as you usually do?

Cooking is my love language and creative outlet! Without dance classes, lacrosse practices, soccer and guitar lessons, the kids now have all this extra time to help me in the kitchen. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. All of them love to cook and hang in the kitchen! My four-year old Finn’s favorite ingredient is Nutella. We aren’t making anything elaborate, like soufflés, always just simple recipes with fresh ingredients. This week I made homemade pesto, roasted chickens with lemon and thyme, and omelettes. Yesterday, my thirteen-year old daughter Elise did branch out and made home-made horse treats from a recipe on Youtube.

What is your state of mind today?

Grateful! Mother Goose has all her goslings safe, happy and together!

What are you reading right now? What have you read in the last year or so that you would highly recommend?

I am excited about having more time to read.

The Brothers Karamazov is on every top ten list of books I admire. It’s an investment, but I think Corona is the perfect time to bravely dive in.

I have just returned from visiting my parents and my mom pulled off her bookshelf, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone about the life of Michelangelo, and The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher.

I am going to reread I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I loved it the first time!

For the spirit, I love anything that Barbara Brown Taylor publishes. I think her recent Learning to Walk in the Dark may offer some luminous wisdom during the Corona Upheaval.

I am especially drawn to poetry right now. Top on my list are Thirst by Mary Oliver and The Stream and Sapphire by Denise Levertov

And finally, what are your tips for Corona Survival? I am so grateful to share your beautiful meditation from BreadandHoney at Bacon today…

This Corona Virus situation is not my first rodeo. Seventeen years ago, I spent nine months in quarantine while my son Charlie was in treatment for stage 4 cancer at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. No church. No gym. No outings to restaurants, no hosting dinner parties, no visits from friends and family, no Friday night date nights with my husband to the movie theater. Life as I knew and loved suddenly stopped completely. We even had to send our Louis-dog away. It was a scary and totally life-disrupting season. We were sequestered for what felt like an eternity in our tiny little apartment on Riverside and 100th street. Fear was always lurking, and some days it took the seat of honor at our dinner table. There were daily tears and weekly meltdowns. I wall-papered the walls of our apartment with scriptures and encouraging words begging for protection and glimmers of hope. I started writing and took daily walks for just sanity. The hardest part was the “not knowing” what the next day would hold, how bad it would get, and when or if life would ever go back to normal. The Corona virus has made me a passenger again on that rollercoaster ride of up and down emotions. One moment, I’m peaceful, even elated for this time-out-of-time with my family, cooking and taking walks together, phone catch-ups with family and friends, extra time to read and write, and popcorn movie nights. Just as quickly, I can slip into an interior black hole of worry. Corona has called into question the security of everything that is important to me: family, their health, job and financial security, plans and carefree fun. Confinement is demanding my best virtues, revealing some flaws and bringing me daily to my knees.

I remember snorkeling in a beautiful Hawaiian bay when out of nowhere my husband and I got caught in a dangerous rip tide. My first instinct was to fight the tide and swim as hard as I could back to shore. I was no match for the tide. Next, I panicked and tried to jump on my husband’s back which only put us both in jeopardy. It wasn’t until I surrendered and floated with the current that I eventually was brought to a safe and new shore.

These are strange and unsettling times for all of us. We need to be vessels of peace staying afloat, waiting to find our way through the riptide. The confinement during Charlie’s cancer treatment was a frightening time, but more beautifully it was a sacred, God-centered time filled with many surprises of true joy. Following are a couple of suggestions for surviving the Corona Upheaval!

  • This is not forever. Create a daily routine.
  • Look for any silver linings.
  • Make joy a choice and a daily discipline. Enjoy simple things like tea and a cookie at 3 in the afternoon, set the dinner table with fresh flowers, call old friend’s on the phone, escape in a novel.
  • Try something new like exploring your family tree on Ancestry.com, challenge yourself with the NY Times Crossword Puzzle, dare new recipes on my blog (my pesto, chili and granola recipes last for days!), plant an herb garden, visit a museum online (The Louvre, The Vatican, and the MET are surprisingly fabulous!), commit a scripture to memory like “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • Be kind to yourself. For me, this means time alone spent in nature, voracious reading, exercise, prayer, coffee and dark chocolate.
  • If you lose your cool, weep an ocean, just fall apart, ask for forgiveness if necessary, and pick yourself up and try again. The sun will come out in the morning.
  • Be generous. You are suffering, but I assure you there are those in far worse circumstances. Find a way to ease someone else’s burden during this time. Confined at home, one can pray with intentionality and cover lots of people.
  • Reach out. If you “hit the wall,” email me your phone number at Farrell@breadandhoneyblog.net and I promise to call you with a word of encouragement! I taped this prayer for protection above our apartment door in
  • New York City so long ago and now have brought it out again. St. Patrick engraved it upon his armor breast plate:

God with me
God before me
God behind me
God in me
God beneath me
God above me
God on my right, God on my left.

Together we can do this!

Thank you, Farrell, for your message of love and hope.

Here are some photos from my yard this past week (God beneath me, God above me, God on my right, God on my left)

*       *       *