On Bewilderment in the Time of Covid-19

Elaine Clayton
3 min readMay 20, 2020
A bewilderment-inspired recent painting/Elaine Clayton 2019

In times when we are so uncertain (like many phases of life) we are caught between a sensation of pining for something we are missing, or struggling under the pressure of grief, having the feeling of great loss upon us. I have sensed these emotions in a few life eras, such as throughout a shattered marriage in where nothing I could do would alter the course, or in no longer parenting with children at home, or through life-changing moves to new locations. Health crises and other burdens can shake us into places where we may ask for guidance from God outward and to our inner-most core, which I have certainly done. Poised awaiting, my trembling hand upon an open ear, expecting yet not hearing that golden bugle announce an answer with sublime ringing clarity so as to melodically lift me to a blissful new personal stratosphere. Huh. And so I sat like a lump, a disappointing dollop of melting vanilla ice cream upon a hot sidewalk. Then, I’d fight that self-image and rise up more like Jacob and wrestle the angel who refused to bring me the messages I sought. With angst and fevered inner lava flowing through my heart and extremities, I realized I was not a fallen ice cream cone, nor was I very good WWE fighter. I was caught somewhere in the middle.

Bewildered. To be bewildered is to be lost in a wilderness without knowing where to go, although the beauty of the word suggests to me a wondrous adventure. Like Hansel and Gretel, shouldn’t I be excitedly hearing every bird guide me, if even to the witch’s evil candy-house trap at first, with her awful oven she may shove me into, knowing eventually I will end up in the best situation by the end of my tale? Why do I find the state of bewilderment so frightening, so confusing and so painful?

Eventually pain and fright is so exhausting, the wrestling or sorrowful self-melting so self-defeating, I had a moment of clarity. The bugle did sound. I realized recently that being bewildered is an answer unto itself. Just as Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel was part of the relationship with a great mysterious force of love we call God, with the creative power we do not and will not ever truly understand, but that we are made of, struggling is part of the relationship. We struggle with ourselves. Being bewildered is part of our answer. It is at times THE answer.

During this time when a pandemic has left us with a magnified sense of bewilderment, unable to use external distractions to lighten our inner struggles with inner voids we have not come to terms with yet–unable to make “normal” plans, unable to do things as we once did (I joke that every time I get an iced-tea with a splash of sweet at the drive-thru, I risk my life and everyone can say so at my Zoom-morial), the sensation of utter bewilderment as to how to orient ourselves causes most of us to weep and weep often. But that does not mean we are lost on the journey. It does not mean we are in the wrong place. We are where we are, and can find great meaning in it. As Viktor Frankl so wisely said when he was faced with Concentration Camp horrors, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” This bewilderment will change us in ways that will make the truth ring out with spectacular clarity. Bewilderment has become a place I have accepted as refuge, for now.

Elaine Clayton copyright 2020 Elaine Clayton is author/artist and intuitive reader, find her at www.elaineclayton.com

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Elaine Clayton

Author, artist, Reiki Master, intuitive reader and teacher of books in the mind-body-spirit genre and books for children.