The past couple of weeks have been interesting and difficult. Trying to settle into a new normal is challenging for everyone. I’ve always been a bit of a hermit. In fact, I was practicing social distancing long before it became popular, and I already work from home. Except for the office meetings which are now all taking place via Zoom, my work life hasn’t changed all that much. I know what a blessing that is.
Still, I don’t like this trapped feeling. My next trip back home to see my kids and grandbabies should be coming right up. Now I’m not sure when I’ll get to Maine again. Boulder is officially under a “shelter in place” directive. An odd term. I have no intention of doing anything but sheltering in place. Nobody had to give me a directive.
I wonder what will become of it all, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. The big question on my mind is this. Will humanity learn from its timeout?
I posted a funny meme on my wall the other day. It asked, “Did the planet just send us all to our room to think about what we did?” I think she did. Frankly. I think Mother Nature has had quite enough of our shenanigans.
Blue skies over Beijing. Stories of dolphins returning to the canals of Venice, which apparently aren’t true but represent a dream. In it all there is underlying hope. I have to wonder. What if we were to take a break from our incessant activity for a whole year? How much would be restored? On the other hand, how quickly will it all revert back once we do resume our busyness?
It’s important to recognize a kind of goodness at work in everything, maybe even viruses. Please don’t take that statement the wrong way. There’s deep sadness in my soul, and I’m scared. Really scared. Yet some part of me that surfaces briefly once every twenty-four hours knows that everything is connected and alive and works together. As Jeremy and Karen Hayward put it in their book, Sacred World: The Shambhala Way to Gentleness, Bravery and Power:
The world is multilayered and rich. Everything in the world is alive and connected to everything else in a way that is vital to the world’s existence. This harmony is basic goodness.
After reading this, I found myself reflecting on the first chapter of Genesis and how at the end of each day God saw that everything was good. Then I thought about what God said at the beginning of each day…
- Let there be light…
- Let there be a firmament…
- Let the waters under heaven be gathered…
- Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit…
- Let there be lights in the firmament…
- Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life and the fowl that may fly…
- And finally…let us make humans in our image, after our likeness.
And it was so.
Yet, is there a deeper message here beyond these creative declarations? Listen for it.
Let there be light. Let the waters be gathered. Let the earth bring forth its abundance. Let the animals roam, the birds fly, the fish swim. Maybe we’re really being asked to allow this earth to be, just as it is. I think that when we do there is a natural balance to life but right now things aren’t really in balance, are they?
During this time when Mother Nature seems to be forcing us to slow down, my prayer is that we might reflect on the basic goodness of life just as it is and discover our role in restoring balance to our planet. My hope is that we’ll one day look back upon this time as a gift – that moment of truth that while tragic did turn things around in a dramatic way.
I’m not alone in this. Here’s another meme circulating around Facebook from Guilty Chocolate Moma.
I think the temptation is to want things to get back to normal as quickly as possible. So I ask.
Could we maybe hang out with the uncertainty of all this for a while? At least long enough to establish another new normal where the life of the planet can finally just “be” again. Long enough to see the natural rhythm and beauty of this world restored.
I mean, even if there’s a cure tomorrow (and I most certainly hope there is), could we nonetheless remain in this holy pause just a big longer? Long enough so that God can once again say, “Behold, it is very good.”
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