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Coronavirus: Fear and contraction, and hope and possibility

I think it’s Saturday – hard to know – the days are all the same now.

This recent health crisis has brought up lots of emotions for everyone, young and old. Most people have a certain amount of fear, in that they may contract the virus or know someone who gets quite ill from it. Other aspects are the social isolation, financial losses, depression, anxiety, fear in just going to the grocery store, uncertainty about how close to be with other people, and all the cleaning and disinfecting we’re all doing. The urgency and rising number of cases each day are making me feel so vulnerable.

How does this fear manifest itself in us? Are we wearing ourselves down just coping with everything? Not sleeping? Low energy? Feeling lonely? Greedy? Can we go one step deeper and really examine the underlying aspect of this fear? What would it be like to die of this, or have a loved one die? What will the continuing social isolation do to us as people, especially the children? There is a darkness I feel, in that the whole earth is suffering so profoundly, from so many things.

Education and information can be the catalyst to action. The more we know, the better. As I write this, we are extreme social distancing and the drive-thru testing center has opened. Great – still small, in the bigger scope of things, but every little bit helps. And blessings to those brave souls who are running it. Of course, everything can change in an instant, as it has been doing, so who knows where we’ll be in a few days? The uncertainty of it is frightening. Faith, that we will move forward and through this terrible disaster.

The isolated days are quiet and unstructured. No one’s going anywhere and there are no “have-tos” anymore. I am settling in to this new way of living, appreciating simple things more – food, birds, music, connecting with loved ones, the dark nights of the new moon, the friendliness of neighbors (from a distance). It’s taken these few weeks to feel more balanced, my older body needs more time to adapt. Each day seems new and different, yet very much the same.

I’ve had some amazing phone calls with people, done some good writing and have a list going of things I’ve needed to do but never had the time. It’s also good that it’s spring. Gardening and working in my yard has helped my sanity. Digging in the earth is grounding and centering in these volatile times. I’ve reached out to others and they have reached out to me. Also, books! There is never enough time to read, and now we all have it. It’s almost like a retreat with ourselves.

And the river trail: I’ve never seen so many families riding their bikes together, and the smiles and silent understanding that we are all in this together from passers-by.

Perhaps this time is for rethinking how we act with each other, caring for things we haven’t thought about much and looking at our old patterns and habits. It’s now so obvious how interconnected we all are. Perhaps this time is for finding balance and harmony again, in this difficult world. Suffering sometimes reveals to us who we really are and brings about the greatest growth.

May we be safe. May we be well. May we be strong. May we be peaceful. May we be loved.

Martha McClellan was a developmental educator in early childhood for 38 years. She has moved her focus now to the other end of life and written a book, “The Aging Athlete: What We Do to Stay in the Game.” Reach her at mmm@bresnan.net.

Pandemic

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath –

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love –

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

Lynn Ungar