I have gleaned some of my texts, emails and posts, in order to capture a glimpse of these days. Each of these paragraphs stands alone, an anthology of sorts, in reverse order. I feel the desire to compile them in one place.

It is curious to watch how difficult it is for me to quiet my mind , like the rest of us I presume. From my vantage point in life, I know we will be changed by all of this. There will be no “getting back to normal”. It will be a new normal.

I pray for no atrocities, and try to hold up the goodness in human beings.

Some of the stories I read keep me awake at night.

My own traumas have informed me during this time . Sometimes triggering, but more often, I hope, giving me wisdom and calm. For many, this is their first feeling of loss — loss of control, loss of niavete, loss of how they imagined their life would unfold, loss of hope, powerlessness to something happening to them they did not choose, fear of the future. It’s like a mass trauma. A saving grace might be the shared nature of it…no shame, no feeling of “why me”.

The trick is to hold the feeling awful (compassion) alongside the wisdom that they will be deepened by this ..carved out, if you will. Of course, we do not wish suffering on anyone even when we have come out the other side and know the gifts it can bless us with, but it can be important to hold that vision for the other.

I have begun reading my way through Etty Hillesum’s diary once again. Her courage, her ability to find beauty, to love humanity and find the face of God in us, as a young Jewish woman in the midst of our atrocity, speak deeply to me at this time. This quote jumped off the page at me this morning, “If you have given sorrow the space its gentle origins demand, then you can truly say: life is beautiful and so rich. so beautiful and rich it makes you want to believe in God”

I am struck at the juxtaposition of the old and the new, by the way we are simultaneously thrust into old, slow ways of doing and being — quarantine as medical intervention, isolated nuclear or extended families relying upon one another, making lists and shopping in bulk rather than making convenience stops, cooking and eating meals at home rather than eating out, a generation of women experiencing being stay-at-home moms — while at the same time relying upon modern technology to do things in new ways- church services streaming, businesses meeting on zoom, social media connecting.

A story of a young man being struck suddenly and severely with the disease, one hour talking with his grandmother (a friend of mine) over lunch the next unresponsive and on life support has struck me deeply. It speaks to the randomness, the frailty of human life, the preciousness of a moment. The sharing of her story has redeemed social media connections, which some see only as shallow. Her words were “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your loving presence via this. For us who are quarantined at home it is a huge gift to have this feeling of interconnectedness with all of you. Quite frankly, It is priceless”

This young man’s case also makes an important point about looking at numbers. The good news is that it appears the young man is rebounding from what the medical staff at first deemed “End of Life”. He will show up on data as part of the 20% hospitalized, and of them the ones requiring ICU . But he will likely not die. As a younger person he is more able to withstand the assault, which an older person wouldn’t. But stats don’t reveal how very serious it was for him and his family. Stats only show that old/vulnerable people are the ones who are dying (as if that is ok??) not necessarily the suffering that many (1000’s?) of others go through.
Stories like this give human flesh to statistical figures that say ‘x’ number of people will require ventilators. It’s not just machines. It’s human beings

” We can live out of love or we can act out of fear. We can anchor our response to the happenings around us in tenderness and hope, or we can live in a more hollow and grasping place of negativity and anger” – Claudia Cummins

“We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, and flowers from the same garden.” Roman philosopher, Seneca, posted on crateloads of masks shipped from China to Italy

‘Touch’ one person today with Compassion. It will spread exponentially

Perhaps this phenomena is something like the rush on toilet paper, except it is happening now in virtual space. We really don’t need that much after all, but there is something in us that grasps onto anything in times of uncertainty and becomes obsessed with it. Try not to add just one more, out of despair. The energy will settle here too…and we will be able to see what is truly needed, to choose only what is vital
There is the story of Indra’s net that always brings me home. In it, each of us imagined to be a jewel, called to hold our own place in the net. If we don’t do so, the whole thing comes unraveled. I think of that jewel, holding the threads that spire outward from it, as having maybe 6 strands. My job is to hold onto just those… and you to hold onto yours. That’s the way we hold onto one another. One by one. To try to grasp the entire mind-boggling vastness of that web would be an exercise in futility and exhaustion for me.
So thank you for all that you offer and hold. I trust that each of us, and all of us together, holding one onto the other will hold this fragile web together.
Find one thing you can do. One person you can attend to. One loving word , or prayer you can share. One moment of quiet. Small things. Great love

The same as I can’t control what is happening in the world with this epidemic, I also cannot control how others will feel or respond to it. I thought I was okay with the first one (even feeling a bit haughty about surrendering to that powerlessness) but I see now that I was not ok with the second — the inability to control the feelings, responses and actions of others.
That’s a completely different invitation to letting go.. Not everyone has to feel or act the way that I do. I’ll begin practicing that today.

Yes, you can

It seems to me that a midwife/doula is what we all need. Someone to remind us that we can get through this time of transition and confinement. In our culture, we’re not used to things happening to us, out of our power to stop, forcing our lives to change all at once…except, as women, we are.

This baby (new life, new way of living) is coming, no matter. That pain of transition is necessary. That adjustment to the new normal, the loss of social connection, (once upon a time post-partum days were literally ones of “confinement”), loss of our previous ways of life, loss of identity, loss of freedom, with no option to escape or to say ‘I won’t do this”, was reality

Just as in the transition stage of birth, we’re not used to pushing through difficult spaces. We want an easy way out, but life itself emerges from that discomfort.

And we did it. We stayed with the discomfort because we had no choice, until it passed into a new life. Until the new way of being felt both normal and blessed. Until we were transformed into someone new.

It feels hard, reality-altering, impossible at first..oh, those first weeks… but after the transition, life shifts. We think in our heads that it’s too hard, but living through it in our bodies, day to day, week by week, rather than escaping the discomfort of the moment into something we think feels easier, reveals unexpected, unthinkable, previously unknowable blessing.

Even if there is trauma, even if the birth ends in NICU babies requiring months if life support,, or special needs infants, or even tragedy, we rise, we are transformed.

We thrive. We become

It’s coming, it’s here, no matter what. Now push through.
Yes, you can

Awakened by the steady percussion of rain on the porch roof outside my window, early birds singing in concert, I was reminded that spring had dawned.
Later this gray day, Don and I walked about 5 miles on the trails behind our house. We were utterly alone out there We felt so grateful for our fortune, living where we do, having each other. The Earth was so mucky, fecund, we were also grateful for boots!!
The understory is aflush with greening buds, twigs are flushing red. Our mental health was given a breath of fresh air..

We want to know , always, but the truth is we never really do. Letting go into the unknown and living into our own humility really can lead to Peace, my friends. Stay out of the chaos. Choose Love.

“I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up.
Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now.’ -Danusha Lameris

Sometimes, humility is in order. Perhaps the time is now to practice deferring to experts, such as epidemiologists, who have years of education and experience, and authorities (local, state, federal, secretaries of health, healthcare institutions, medical professionals, CDC, Dept of State etc) who are being guided by that expertise, rather than blindly hanging on to our own biases and good opinions of ourselves. Sometimes it’s ok to realize and to say, “I don’t know” and to let go of that fearful conceit into something bigger than yourself.
I realize that trust has been broken in our society, and that its also hard to know what is true in this age of mass “information” overload, but fierce reliance upon your own opinion and your own self interest (I will only get a cold) in this case could put the lives of many at risk.
Greater good, folks. We need to watch out for one another.
And so what if we err on the side of caution. We can risk foolishness for the sake of another.

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