The word pandemic comes from the Greek, pan meaning ‘all’ and demos meaning ‘people’. This charms me: that the original word doesn’t have anything do do with illness or dis-ease. Instead, it merely wraps us all up, all of us people who share this exquisite planet. What could have brought us together? What could have hugged us in such a way that we stopped, felt ourselves to be held and quieted, held and soothed? This may be a surprising way to look at what’s happening in the world now, but, to me, it is a way. And I’m willing to see things differently than they at first appear, and certainly differently from the way they are portrayed on the public stage.
I picture Mother Nature watching us somewhat askance for the past hundred fifty years or so, watching and wondering if we would wake up on our own or if we would need her intervention. I picture her sighing and perhaps somewhat reluctantly putting her crown (corona) on her head, turning to us and raising her arms and her voice: “You will sit down now and be quiet. You will stay in your rooms until I tell you that you can come out.” I picture her loving us, being gentle with us, but being firm that we had to stop if we were not going to destroy ourselves and everything else on this planet—the trees and the lions, the seas and the grasslands . . .
Now, here we are, sitting and being quiet. Personally I feel like some subtle rearrangement is happening in me. I don’t know what it is yet, but it feels right and good. I haven’t been writing; perhaps I haven’t known what to say, but today a friend invited me to write. When I speak with friends around the globe, I find a ripple of excitement, a thrill to be quiet, joy rising up in the solitude. Slowing and being quiet, what a surprising gift.
And how to thrive in this time? I hear about simple things, how many people are baking bread for the first time, making masks, painting rainbows and rocks to cheer their neighbors, making up songs and poems, creating family theatrical events. There are family dinners on Zoom plus meeting the new baby, singing the grandchildren to sleep, sitting shiva to mourn the loss of a loved one. There are financial gifts flowing out to help in the myriad ways we can, there are groceries being left on porches, there are masks arriving in the mail, being laid on front steps. There are the amazingly inventive ways communities have turned to the internet to bring us concerts, plays, yoga classes, painting excursions, meditation retreats.
There are thousands in every city taking care of all of us—health care workers, of course, and farmers and grocery workers, utilities workers, law enforcement officers, delivery drivers—so many people keeping us safe, fed, and comfortable. We are waiting. We are watching. We have the opportunity to nestle into ourselves and find our way. Perhaps not just now our way in the world, but our way into our own hearts, to come home to ourselves perhaps for the first time in a very long time.
How lovely to be reminded that we humans are resilient, we know how to make things up, to create anew. What will come of this time? Obviously, no one can know. One day we will look back and see. For now, I am happy to stay and remind myself, “This moment.” This moment, a beautiful place to rest.