I’ve been going back and forth over what to write. Do I discuss what we’re all thinking about right now – or trying hard not to – or do I write something funny to take our minds off it?
Or do I blow off the whole thing and just take a nap instead?
On the one hand, everyone is likely tired of reading about the pandemic; on the other hand, how do I ignore what is staring right at us?
And then this morning I’m sitting in my sunroom practicing my clarinet, looking out at the bird feeders in my backyard, and it’s so easy – so terribly easy – to believe all is right with the world.For just a little while, I forget there are schools closed, that people are working from home or maybe not working at all, that many are afraid and no one has any idea what will happen or when it will end.
But when I look out my window, the squirrels are still picking up acorns and seeds. From the trees I hear the “fee-bee” call of a male chickadee looking for a mate, and on the large oak tree over to the left is a pileated woodpecker, hammering away, finding his breakfast of ants and beetles.
Whatever else may be happening in the world, nature goes on.
And that’s when it occurred to me, that is exactly what is happening right now. Nature is doing what nature does best: finding a way to survive. And this virus is doing one bang-up job of it.
Meanwhile, we wash our hands and stand six feet apart and look at doorknobs more warily than we did before.
If nothing else, this experience forces us to realize how connected we are. All of us, all of life – animal, vegetable, mineral, fungus, bacteria, the very air we breathe – all interwoven and evolving together. And if one of us gets out of whack, the others are affected.At the convent where I work, the Sisters were forced to make the very difficult decision to close their doors to the public. These Franciscan women have lived their lives focused outward, always thinking of the other, but now they had to face reality. If the virus entered the convent, it could decimate their community.
But even now they’re considering how they may still reach out. My office is considering what services could be provided online, if an upcoming retreat can be live-streamed or a “Good Friday Prayer Walk” done remotely. We’re trying to think creatively.
And really, aren’t we lucky to live at a time when these creative alternatives are possible? When digital contact can give us some semblance of real contact and we don’t have to feel so alone? When we can feel connected, if only online?
Funny thing, after I had written the above, one of the Sisters sent me this poem. It was composed by a Unitarian Universalists minister from the Bay area. I’m only giving an excerpt here – I highly recommend you read the whole piece (it’s not too long) – you can find it at her site: lynnungar.com
Anyway, she says everything I was wanting to say, only far more eloquently:
An excerpt from Pandemic
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar, 3/11/20
Interesting thought — to consider this an opportunity to reach out in compassion, to feel that connection, even in isolation.
I’m willing to give it a shot.
Even now as I write this, not knowing who will be reading it but figuring – hoping – someone will. For this moment, we share a connection. A sense of, hey, I’m here. I’m a person and I care.
And if you’re here – if you read this far (thanks, by the way) – do us a favor and leave a little note in the comments letting us know who you are. Even if you never commented before, just let us know where you live and how you’re doing. It can be as short or as wordy as you want. Because unless you live in Greenland, chances are you’re affected by all of this. Let us know who you are, and then see who is here with you. We worry less when we’re not alone.
So take a moment to introduce yourself, make a friend or two, and then snuggle in for a nap.
I have it on the best authority: it’s the cure for what ails you.