It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work.
And that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry
Here are three questions. I’m curious to learn what you have to say in response. You don’t need to respond to all three. Just whatever you want to share. So, if you feel moved to respond, please do. Just hit reply. I welcome your words. And, even if you choose not to respond, these are good questions for reflection.
1. What are your stories that help you sense of what we are experiencing with the coronavirus? Said another way, how are you fitting it into your world view? Or, what do you see as the big picture meaning?
2. What emerging stories have you heard from others that are especially compelling for you?
3. Given this experience, what are you seeing anew? What are you reclaiming?
When I began this Fire and Ice series at the beginning of the fourth year of emails that coincide with Trump’s presidency, what prompted me at that time were the devastating wildfires in Australia and the most recent reports of the accelerating ice melt on both poles. None of us could see what was to come just a month later, in February. The email I sent on March 4 was Hear the Story Woman. Here’s one sentence from the poem:
We like to tell ourselves stories of power, how we lost it, how we can reclaim it.
I sense that at this moment, we are living into exactly that sentence. In a class called Perceptual Geography my favorite professor in graduate school introduced me to the concept of the participant-observer. The insight I took away was that I could participate and, simultaneously, consciously observe what’s going on in and around me. One of the things I’m observing these days is the vast range of stories that are emerging. For example, there are stories of this being a time of sacred healing for Mother Earth and an opportunity for us to choose anew how we want to live. And there are stories about the virus itself ranging from theories about the origin to the incredible heroes who have put their lives on the line for others.
As human beings we long to make sense of and seek to make meaningful that which is going on in and around us. This sense- and meaning-making is deeply affected by our cultures and our world views. I have my own narratives emerging but I will save them for another day.
Other than to say this: When all of this came down, I went straight to fear. It’s an old habit! Familiar and well-practiced! A few years ago I learned that neuroscientists have found that we actually grow the part of the brain where we spend our time. So, in fear, we grow the amygdala, the primitive reptilian brain. One of may conscious observations as I participate in this ‘unprecedented’ time is that I’m pretty much unaware of how I am participating and pretty much incapable of observing when I’m sitting in fear. Thus, I’ve been concentrating on moving my attention to the frontal lobe – both literally and figuratively. I start by taking in a deep breath and then powerfully breath out fear. With several breaths after that I breathe in love, compassion, peace, power, kindness…. Over and over. It seems to be working. And, it’s so good to be able to both participate and consciously observe again!
Like so many others, I’m deeply grateful to all of the people who are providing ‘essential services.’ One callout I’d like to make today is to those working to provide our utilities. We had a snowstorm on Easter. The next morning, with windchill, it was about +10ºF. So I’m grateful for electricity, heat, water, and plumbing. Blessings abound!
Photo by Barbara
Downtown Farmers’ Market