this is hard. i feel it too.

Dear One,

It is day 21, I think, if I look back to the day that the governor first began shutting down the state, first schools, then businesses, then counties. We are all of us isolated from one another now, and oddly more connected than ever. It is a strange time, separating ourselves in order to save ourselves. Loving our neighbors by keeping our distance from them. When every instinct in our human species is to bond more tightly together during times of danger, we keep safe instead by drawing apart. This is not about self-preservation – there will always be those who hide and shelter in place in order to save themselves — but this for the sake of the other. It is a strange time.

My rational head understands this- the exponential charts, the biology of contagion, the economy of services and supplies. My soul, my humanity, my emotional being, the ancient wisdom embodied in my cells- however you want to name it — has more difficulty wrapping itself around this. And I must deny that particular wisdom in order to quell my urge to wrap myself around my fellow human in some physical way. To come together physically, to put myself in harm’s way for the sake of the other. And yet, I know (in my head) that to put myself in harm’s way in this case could also be to the detriment of many.

It is a paradox unlike any other. An existential crisis unfathomable.

Perhaps this lies at the seat of my sadness this morning. The sadness swept over me like a wave this morning, hitting me so suddenly that I had to come sit, put my head back, rest. Listen.

What is it?

It probably didn’t help that I stayed up late last night, scouring the local hospital’s website to see if there were volunteer opportunities or even temporary service type jobs — cleaning, laundry services, clerical- for when the surge hits our area– like a wave.

(Perhaps those charts all over the news media– of waves rising and falling, inundating and retreating- are fresh in me this morning)

I thought, perhaps I could help build the hospital pods, Certainly there will be bodies needed for that– though the military seems to have that in hand, and signing onto that boat passed me by. I find myself kicking myself that I hadn’t finished one single thing in my life that would make me useful– the RN program I left when my last child was born, for instance. Why didn’t I at least get the nursing assistant certification that I easily could’ve taken with my semesters of academic and clinical experience? Why did I never follow up on those urges to Midwife training? Something! I called the blood bank- I’d worked there once- perhaps they could use a helping hand.

I will give blood.

I want to BE of service. Instead I will just have to BE.

And that calls into question the existential nature of my being. What does it mean to be human? Embodied? Do I really trust in the unseen, the unknown, in a Power greater than 1 ? Do I really believe that Love is enough? That I can tap into that communion of Love – taking both nurture from it and contributing to it. That this is enough to hold this crumbling world together.

I expect this is some psychological response to trauma. I think I recall reading once upon a time during the aftermath of some natural disaster (is this what this is– ‘natural’ disaster?) that giving persons something to do to helped somehow with PTSD. It may have been something about moving the trauma out of the body so that it doesn’t lodge there. Something along those lines. I’m not going to look it up now, but I do believe there is something quite human in my distress, quite communal – this feeling of helplessness, of being asked to hold still, like being physically held down.

And I feel guilty even sharing such thoughts with the world. It feels selfish,-as if its about me. I feel like I should share instead words of comfort, words of encouragement, words of hope or peace. Something calming, something wise. To be the one to hold onto the vision that this too will pass. That goodness will come from this trial– as my soul knows it will. That all will be well- as my sister Julian has so often whispered to me, she who lived through several waves of the Plague ravishing her world, while enclosed in her recluse cell with her window on the suffering outside those walls. To be the midwife, able to see what those in pain cannot possibly from their vantage point, that birth is imminent after this pain passes, after this dark passage through this constricting space, that light and new life will be ours. That Love will bond us together.

Yes, my head know those things too. Perhaps even my deeper wisdom. But this space in between those two, where both my heart and my body reside, feels only the despair of helplessness.

Helplessness. Not hopelessness. This is a vital distinction, I hear. (Yes, I hear you, my soul.) For it is not lack of Hope here at all. I do trust in Love. I do trust that we are a part of a bigger story here – a human story, an earth story, a universal story, a Love story. This is but one page. One page that will turn over its leaf into the next, the gifts of which we cannot yet know, but can trust. The ancient wisdom in me knows this much is true. The indwelling Love in me — perhaps the same one that breaks my heart with compassion during these immediate days- also assures me that Love is all that there is– to do AND to BE.

And so, I will risk sharing these words too. Not to bring despair, I pray, but to express Love. Communion. Compassion (suffering with). For I suspect there are others like me, their hearts breaking, the goodness in them seeking outlet, feeling helpless in their confinement, as if straightjacketed. I can say to them, yes, I feel that too.

You are not alone. You and I are in solidarity in this, in these feelings of restraint- the double entendre of that word poignant.

Perhaps that is at least as necessary as any words of positive encouragement, peace, or calming blessings, can offer.

This is hard. I feel that too.

Be still. My heart.

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