I want to write about something else – but there is nothing else. Corona virus, shelter-in-place, quarantine. Concepts we didn’t know a few months ago and now they are all we know. This is the year of the rough draft, the year we learn to bend in the wind. We are slowly coming to understand that this is the year of the marathon, not the 50 yard dash. And, we haven’t trained for it – we are plodding along trying to catch our breath and we can hardly see the track. And yet, it is also the year of rest, reset, silence, contemplation, and extended hiatus. No place to go, no end of the race, not even any ribbons to be won. We are living in the space between words. And yet, it is the year to read War and Peace and to do the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, just because. It is the year of no haircuts, baking without flour, parking the car more or less permanently. It is the year of Zoom and making do, of empty beaches, empty chairs. It is the year of darkened doors and home-made. It is the year of more medical deaths than we as a country have ever imagined, and the year of not knowing. It is also the year some of us have had the bandages ripped off our eyes and we have glimpsed the raw truth of the inequality among us.

And so I am always asking myself, what is the spiritual truth in all of this? What are the soft places hidden in the difficulties? And/or what are the hard places that I suddenly see more clearly? What are the possibilities for spirit to show up in our lives in some new way? Though we certainly didn’t choose this, it is what we have. I like to hear people talk about what they have learned or are learning as we slog through this time together. It’s not that there’s always a silver lining behind every cloud – and not that what we are learning is worth the price we are also paying – but still, since we are here – what have you learned from this time? What do you hope to carry forward once this is over or changed?

(I’d love to see people actually add their comments, but that must be difficult to do, because I notice people don’t. So, if you can figure it out – I’d love for you to share in the comment section below what is working well – what are the tiny glimpses of silver you see in your life right now? Or what new truths have become clear to you?).

May all of us stay safe and calm and hopeful as time passes through us.

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  • evansph2

Updated: May 23

This is what life does.

Some days it arrives in a blaze of sunlight and birdsong – and other days it waddles in on a pile of gray clouds and the only song is the garbage truck backing up. Of course, that is a blessing too – You wouldn’t want the garbage truck NOT to arrive. But, you know what I mean… Sunshine and shadows.

Today I am completely sick of “sheltering in place”. I want to be anywhere BUT here in this same old place with my droopy hair and baggy sweatpants – and looking forward to watching Jeopardy. This is not what I want – --

And then I hear my Buddhist teacher say... “Yes, but it’s what you have”. So, then what? Find compassion for yourself and for the current reality you are in. I hear my Mother say. “Go read a book”. “Go outdoors and play”. I don’t want to do those things. What DO you want? She asks. “I dunno”.

What do I want – What do I deeply want? I guess it is to find some equanimity with what is. To meet this day as a friend. This is what life does. It ebbs. It flows. It stalls out. The season of everything has been cancelled. I have an itch I can’t quite scratch. Blow some kisses at the mirror. This is what life does –-- hang on for the ride.

Here is a wonderful piece where the poet Helena Magnusson Ogburn imagines the world talking back to us… telling us to just "be here" and reminds us of who else is on this journey too!



be here 

with me.

Signed: The moon.  The stars.  Your still-hot-cup-of-coffee.  Your  

daughter.  Your son.  Your spouse.  Your heart.  The green grass.  The wild flowers.  The waters you long to swim in.  The color yellow. The color blue. Your favorite poem. Your favorite blanket.  The wind in your hair.  The waves on the ocean.  The mountain air.  Your dad.  Your mom.  The rain.  The ice-cream cone.  The butter sizzling with garlic in the frying pan.  The grocery clerk with sad, kind eyes.  Postcards waiting to be sent.  The city squirrel.  The country squirrel.  Jupiter.  The photo album.  Your grandmother's rosary. Your favorite song.  Ink and paper.  Your best friend.  The money in your wallet.  The fork in your hand.  Brushes and paint.  Downward Facing Dog.  The color turquoise.  The almost invisible shade of pink.  God.  The skyline.  The earth beneath your feet.  A hammock. The shade of a giant tree.  This moment, right here, now.  Your bones.  Your  belly laugh.  Your breath.  Your breath.  Your breath.

- Helena Magnusson Ogburn 

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  • evansph2

This pandemic seems to bring about platitudes; “Everything will be OK”. “Keep hope alive”. “What are the opportunities here?” “This too shall pass.”

Though I myself, have uttered those sayings, I recognize that it is also true that everything will not be OK. Hope falters and takes odd shapes. Though there are opportunities, there is also pain. And, though it will at some point “pass”, in the meantime people are dying in unprecedented numbers, our unemployment rate is sky high, our leaders have failed us in so many ways. The already marginalized have been pushed even further – not just into the margins, but off the page.

Our task seems to be to hold all of these truths. To hold hope in one hand like a rock -- and fear, rage and death in the other hand like a rock. Not to try to balance them – but to give each its due. We have never lived in an either/or world. It is always both/and. We are always swinging between the pillars of illness and wellness, between bad news and good, between regrets and accomplishment.

Our redemption seems to be in our capacity for holding opposing truths, for being resilient. Not in denying the horror of what we are living through – but in having some kind of faith that whatever comes of it, we will be able in one way or another to be resilient – with the help of our friends. Having “faith” is not a one-time accomplishment. It is an ongoing process of learning over and over to open our mind, to open our heart to what is true. And at the same time to recognize that truth is not static either. Things change – we change daily, hourly.

So, when we find ourselves feeling despair, fear, rage, we can honor those feelings as true responses to the situation we are in. And, we also can be kind to ourselves over and over. This is a difficult time and being punitive to ourselves about our response only adds more pain to the suffering. As always, the wonderful poet Mary Oliver, has some advice for us in these difficult days. Her poem, “Love Sorrow” reminds us that we can love difficult feelings as well as hopeful ones;

Love sorrow.

She is yours now, and you must take care of what has been given. Brush her hair, help her into her little coat, hold her hand,  especially when crossing a street. For, think,

what if you should lose her? Then you would be sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness would be yours. Take care, touch her forehead that she feel herself not so

utterly alone. And smile, that she does not altogether forget the world before the lesson.  Have patience in abundance. And do not ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment

by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,  abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,  sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.  And amazing things can happen. And you may see, 

as the two of you go walking together in the morning light, how little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;  she begins to grow.

~Mary Oliver


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