Here’s the new normal. Everything is cancelled. We and our neighbors hoard groceries, meds, read everything we can. Wanting and not wanting to know the news. Our routines are smashed to smithereens. What’s broken is our assumption that we are somehow exempt.
Predictability, we have learned, is a very squishy term. Our own internal fear has grabbed us by the throat and swung us around. No more whistling “Dixie” amidst the pandemonium. What’s broken is our connection with neighbors, strangers, anyone who coughs, anyone who touches their own face, or God forbid ours! What even seems to be cracked is our own common sense.
We have all learned how long 20 seconds is and by God we do it – dozens of times. We all have chapped hands. And, what is the crux of all this? We know in our bones something more about vulnerability – about lack of control – about the precariousness of making plans.
But, will we remember what our panic is trying to teach us? The same old lessons – live in this moment, be grateful for all that is right, be kind, everyone is suffering in ways we don’t always see. Over and over the world whacks us over the head or sneaks in thru tiny droplets of infected water with tough lessons for us.
This is a drive on a country road at night with no streetlights. Go slow – or decide to walk. Take someone’s hand. Whistle. This too shall pass and what a shame it would be to have wasted the opportunity to get closer to our own vulnerability, our own fate, our unprotected life. To learn more about who and what we can lean on. To find what can and can’t be fixed – and the courage to live with those difficult truths.
In these hard times, may you find something soft. In these confusing times, may you see some things clearly. Most of all, in these times of isolation, may you find new ways to connect and vow to use them. Here are some wise words from poet Rashani Rea
There is a Brokenness
There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctified into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart.
As we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.