It is indeed a strange time. No matter how we are able to arrange our day, get food, slow down, catch up; even if we don't watch too much of the news (really, why would we? Mostly repetition of urgency), that unsettledness is in the air. If there is
anything strong and undeniable about this time, it is that - no matter how well off we are - we all share the unsettledness of the Earth herself. The weather is her message - the extremes and the unsettledness.
Some watch more tv. Some walk and read
and cook. Some worry and pace, and others cannot sleep.Some meditate, or meditate more. But the one strand we all share is that we don't have any idea of how long these conditions will go on, nor what we can do to relieve the extreme anxiety, especially of
the young, parents, school kids, and the elderly who have no one to care for them.
There are many other kinds of life-circumstances I could name, but we see them every day in some form or another, and we are ourselves included.
The one important
- and I think this most important condition to address - is our anxiety, both personal and the anxiety of those we live with and associate with. Any help with our own anxiety, even a few moments
of settling ourselves or someone else, will contribute to the settling of the world.
"As We Carry On" is the title of a song by Carolyn McDade, sung by her choirs of women in many parts of the world. The title comes to me this morning as a phrase to repeat
as we we move through these days, weeks, months and what might turn out to be years. The world is changed already. We are not going back.
So each day - for me
- and I invite you, dear reader - to silentsly say a few times a phrase like this: "I think. I let it be. I let go." Or another, repetitive prayer - this is the one I use:
"May we be safe. May we be contented. May we be healthy. May we live with ease. May we feel loved."
Even if we go back to the anxiety that we might not have personally, we are sharing the collective anxiety of our present world.Repeat these phrases for others as well as ourselves.
As the pandemic/quarantine days unfold, and we go out into a world of masks and fear of being too close to other people, of hysterical news reports and warnings of danger, of the contraversies
about schools...and on and on...what are we being and doing in our small parts of the world? This question invites us to stop a few times a day and consider...
is to place your hand on your heart whenever you think of it, and for that few seconds, feel its beating and let it bring you into the present moment. Some people then say a short phrase, like "All is well, all manner of things are well," (echoing Julian of
Norwich) - which - even for those few seconds, they are. Even 2-3 times of doing that each day will diminish the heightened charge of anxiety and fear that now dominates every part of our world. And - dare I say it - turn off the news, or limit yourself to
once a day for a few minutes.
Don't think for a minute that this practice serves only you! It serves those around you, and it even contributes to the larger world in
ways we cannot see but trust and know. And isn't that faith?
There are some who say that we are at the height of summer now, but already I notice the dying away of daisies and buttercups, and the opening of Black-Eyed Susans; and, thanks be to the
Weather God, a lessening of humidity...
Yet, for me, who would rather wake up temperatures never above 25 with no humidity whatsoever, it has been a summer of practising -
and often failing - to be patient with what is.
And where I live, at SoulWinds (two acres of forest) on a river with Joan and her dog Mahti and my constant(it seems) cat companion
MaCushla (Cushie), we are in thankful awe every day at the privilege we have of being cradled and comforted by the Earth herself.
So many are in distress every day; so many
don't have enough; so many are at a loss on so many levels. I hold them in my heart and offer grace and peace - and then let go into trust: that no matter how difficult for me/us there are always many more (beyond my imagining) who need such focus and prayer,
and it is those on whom I focus, not my own petty concerns.
This is a hard and difficult and even painful practice. It is so for everyone. And yet, and yet...how else will
we contribute to a more peaceful world? How else will we bring peace to where we live? How else can we help the many who cannot even think of doing such things, so desperate are they, so lost and disturbed by it all?
A few days ago I decided to go with Joan in my kayak down the river behind our house. I have had a kayak for several years, but in the last two years I had taken it out very few times indeed. Nevertheless,
I was confident, and felt strong as we began.
Not very far downriver from our dock is a bridge for vehicles to cross the river. usually I don't paddle under the bridge - I just float until
coming out into the whole air again. But this time there was a ribbon of some kind hanging from the middle of the bridge to the water. I raised my paddle to move over so to see what it was attached to and FLIP! in a split second my kayak was upside down and
I trapped beneath it, not immediately realizing where I was or what happened! My immediate concern was not losing my glasses underwater! My hand went up immediately to check for them and - luckily - they were there...then I realized that my head was in the
seat opening, and so I pushed myself down and outside the opening, and immediately floated to the top of the water. By this time Joan was calling and paddling madly back to where I was!
was really OK and insisted on paddling on down the river...my clothes would dry on this very hot day and so they did.
Since then, I have been pondering the similarity to our present CoVid
flip. Sudden, feeling trapped, wondering what has happened to our dependable North American lives! Sometimes breathless in the unexpectedness of it! The disbelief, the restrictions, the conflicting advice, the plight of the poor and the elderly, the fighting
among government leaders, and on and on.
Yet, when we pick ourselves up and name where we are for ourselves - and realize that we still have our glasses - we can look with a different eye.
We can choose our own way of being in quarantine, we can savor the time we never used to have, we can trust an outcome which doesn't yet seem near. We can breathe deeply. Each breath moves us onward. We can claim the gifts that quarantine opens...and they