Here we are at the end of April (I think) still trying to figure out what day it is and how to spend it. Everything is quieter, slower, fuzzier. The days of sheltering-in-place blend together like a watercolor, indistinct edges blurring form and function. The way we used to live seems like a distant memory, and we long to go to our favorite restaurant with a group of our dearest friends. Some states have eased up on restrictions while others err on the side of caution to keep their residents safe. It’s confusing and challenging and exhausting. But I believe that things are looking up... At least I am, and I am inviting you to look up too.
What I mean is that we have been asked, as a global family, to slow down, take care of ourselves and each other, and learn a new rhythm for our lives. And I can’t help but notice that there is so much good that is coming out of this period for all of us.
By now, we’ve all seen the videos of the animals taking over empty streets, and the clean water in the canals of Venice, and the comparison photographs of formerly pollution-choked cities. And we’ve seen teacher caravans waving and honking to their students with so much love. There has been an outpouring of support for healthcare workers that echoes through the streets of Manhattan every day at 7 PM. Some restaurants are providing food for people them, and organizations like World Central Kitchen are feeding thousands of meals a day to hungry Americans. Wonderful, heart–opening things are happening all over the world that is changing how we see each other, how we treat each other, and who we are as humans.
I keep getting this image that all of humanity is like a piano keyboard. We are all on different notes, and they are all needed for the symphony. Since the beginning of this pandemic, it’s as if we have all moved up a few notes, collectively, so that the music that we are is now in a higher key. Ancient teachers, sages and prophets have long described a new age for humanity, as we remember who we are and why we’re here. I always wondered how that shift would manifest. I truly believe that we are in the middle of that great shift, and that things are looking up.
That is not to say that this time is without a lot of struggle. And the unspeakable grief of all of those sudden losses. By now, everyone knows someone who has lost someone. Six degrees of separation would be a luxury that we no longer have. Add to that, the millions of people who have lost their jobs or careers and are trying to figure out how to survive, and you might be wondering how I can say things are looking up. I don’t blame you. Sometimes I wonder myself…
And then I start thinking about how this huge change has affected so many things. For example, we are no longer an instant gratification society. Now, when I order a book from Amazon, it doesn’t arrive the next day. It doesn’t even arrive the next week. I am learning patience and anticipation. When the book finally does arrive, I can hardly wait to read it.
My notion of abundance has changed too. When my neighbor's daughter started working at Costco, she kept an eye out for toilet paper and paper towels for me. I felt positively giddy when she delivered a case of each!
I am also learning that what I have is more than enough. Shopping is no longer a pastime. I don’t need new clothes because I’m not going anywhere. I realize how much of my buying habits were just that. Habits.
I feel a deepening of gratitude for my friends. I never really took them for granted, but now I so appreciate every FaceTime call, Zoom party, text or email, just to check in for a virtual hug.
And oh, I am looking up! I look up at the beautiful blue sky, empty of the white streaks from airplanes. I look up at the burgeoning leaves of the fig tree in my yard. I look up and see the spring migrants, like orioles and flycatchers, resting before nesting and raising their young. And if I’m lucky, I can watch a fledgling madly flapping its wings learning how to fly. Kind of like us, stretching new wings to learn a new way to fly without leaving home.
It’s not just the blue sky that has me mesmerized. The stars are clearer, the planets are shining and the moon is the beacon of hope in the night sky.
So I am going to keep looking up, because that’s the only way to see the silver linings in the storm clouds. I hope to see you looking up too...