The new normal? Or, a new beginning…


And here we are, somewhere no one could have imagined just a few months ago. Small islands of humanity retreating to our contemporary caves, vigilant but vulnerable.

One of my (several) heart-sisters — those women who become your family, even though you have different parents — sent me a poem that’s helped. It’s how I’m trying to frame this otherwise very difficult time. You all know me by now: poetry is, probably more than anything, my ‘religion.’ It’s my comfort, my aspirations, my sermons & my admonitions. It’s the ‘breath’ in Tea & Breath.

So here’s what Lois sent, a poem from the early ’90s that seems as if written for these troubled times. It’s not an end — as we all fear — but a beginning, if that makes sense. And I hope it helps you, as it has me:

Poem: Pandemic ~ Lynn Ungar

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.

This is the lens through which I’m trying (hard!) to see my daily exertions, the weirdness of no grocery store visits (online orders! pickup!), watching the grands play only in the very back of the yard (no hugs…no snuggles…), daily touching base w/ my beloved, and lots of phone & FaceTime. And those are the relatively good parts! We’ll skip over daily news, politics, scalping sellers, and shortages of necessities… 😏

So here’s my advice: listen to Reverend Ungar. Follow your heart, and let it make the connections we all miss these days. It may just save you ~

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