May 20, 2020
Invocation written for the Commissioners Court
by Laura Mayo
Holy one of love and justice, of music and laughter; of silence and tears, we pray for the people of the world this day, people who are hurting and struggling in the midst of this global pandemic. We pray for the people of our county and for the Commissioners and our County Judge. We pray for wisdom, stamina and compassion for all our leaders and we pray for help, encouragement, and lasting improvements for the people of our county who are struggling.
We ask you, Holy one, to be our shepherd. Walk with us through this valley of sickness and death, of frustration and fatigue, of overwhelm and awe. Remind us that we can be faithful and frightened. Help us to be honest with you. Help us to be honest with ourselves and each other - to reach out to you and to each other when we need to connect. Help us to see the holy, the sacred in these days. Give us the courage and strength we need to focus on love, to find new ways to work for justice and peace, to meet the onslaught of these challenges.
We pray this day for our world, for our country, for our county, for our communities, for ourselves. We pray for those who are ill, we pray for those who grieve, we pray for our healthcare workers, our grocery store workers, our now unemployed workers, and all those who are working to keep the lights coming on, the water clean, the roads ready; we pray for the sanitation workers and the mail carriers, the farmers and ranchers, the veterinarians. We pray for teachers and students adjusting to so many changes. We pray for those alone at home, for those who feel isolated. We pray for the relationships of those at home together: we pray for patience, for empathy, for kindness and calm. We pray for those whose savings are disappearing, those whose jobs are now unstable. We pray for those who had no savings, who were already barely making it and now don't know what to do. We pray for ourselves and each other as businesses begin to reopen. We pray that we will care for each other by wearing masks, by making decisions with the health of our most vulnerable neighbors at the forefront of our minds, we pray for wise and kind and just decisions from our government leaders.
We are grateful, holy one, for scientists and medical professionals whose expertise guides leaders in making decisions that impact so many lives. We pray, especially today, for everyone in the care of these leaders: for librarians, those who are in our jails, the workers repairing our roads and bridges, everyone needing our courthouses and using our parks, and all the people of Harris County. We pray for safety, for strength, for empathy, for creativity, and for calm and careful decision making.
We are separated physically but there is a spirit that unites us, a spirit that will guide and encourage each of us. These days have taught us that even while we need to physically stay apart, we can come together to care for our community. We pray that we will all continue to seek justice, compassion, health, and peace for everyone.
Be our shepherd. Lead us in paths of peace.
May 13, 2020
Three poems by Kathleen Cook:
Dear Tomorrow, are you there?
On your way? Just over that hill?
Receded: promises of trips,
Cancelled: extended visits with kin.
Unknown: simple anticipation of a
restaurant meal. Missing.
I can’t see you, imagine you.
Yesterday, would you step back a bit?
All you were blinds me now with
unbidden tears. Abandoned schoolyard,
Shuttered storefronts, empty playgrounds.
Yesterday, such a swift portal into fears
known before only In collective bones:
1918, 1950, inundating waves of terrible
illness. Do not let me stop in shadows.
I set out to seek you in flower. In creature.
Jasmine, oleander, homely toad stop me
on my way. The shrub known as Yesterday,
Today, and Tomorrow bears simultaneous
blossoms of purple, violet and white.
From one day to the next the petals change
in glorious show. I beg to rest in the light.
Tomorrow, let your promise be known to us.
A Quiet Day at Home
Did you hear that?
What? I didn’t hear it.
Just the clock ticking.
The hour passing.
Your skin sloughing.
A kind of sh, ch, and then
No, no, I didn’t mean that.
Maybe it’s coming
from the wall. Look,
they're clearly cracking.
The foundation’s skirting.
They’re taking the water
from the ground. Fracking
it’s called, accurate name,
what our poor walls
sound like, Fraaaaaack.
I think you need your hearing
checked. It’s alive,
plain as day.
Well, sure, the earth’s shifting.
She can’t sit all those hours
without squirming a little.
And the movers and shakers
have to scramble some,
just to sit upright, catch-can,
Sometimes you can listen
to your Self, notice you’re
coming a little unfrayed,
the whole cloth
Quite a Read
What are you reading?
Novel Coronavirus, can’t put it down.
Everyone’s reading it, gripping.
New chapter daily, constant plot twist.
Can you clarify, identify?
No-vel Coro-na-vi-rus. Yes some just
say the coronavirus, others COVID 19.
The hip just call it Rona.
Who’s the author?
Author unknown, but ethnicity widely rumored
by xenophobes, sinophobes, phobicphobes, perhaps
funded by Dolphins for Clean Venetian Canals.
So tell me the plot.
Well, there’s this evil and seems at first only fells
the old and just the unfirm-old, so big deal but
turns out it’s not so selective and when it causes
businesses to close and markets to crash,
Where does it happen, the setting, I mean?
Just everywhere but that’s not clear early on,
turn another page and it’s all over the place,
from Turin to Timbuktu and Talahassee.
When and how does it end?
Well no spoiler alert needed cause nobody the
heck knows. New episodes daily like the ones
that came via ship in Victorian times. Dickensian
this, but moment by moment in unreal time.
What’s your favorite part?
I love the nurses, the docs, the grocery store
workers, Dr. Gucci, the Marx brothers, the artists.
Not so crazy about the length of the novel.
Most writers don’t know when to quit.
Earlier you mentioned the evil. Does it have a face or name?
Looked like a soccer ball with protrusions, first red,
but now sometimes green. Pretty in a way, seen
at a distance. New age Christmas ornament.
Sometimes the evil appears as agents that look like
doofuses with AR-15s. Sometimes looks like the
politicians who gave unneeded assistance to the rich.
Poor people just go to Dickens.
In this novel, who’s going to save the day?
Well, not the dear leader who advises the peons
to inject bleach. Not the ones who preach come on
in here, God will take care of us.
Maybe it’ll be the worker bees, maybe those
who stay home reading, the scientists most
likely, but really the ending is not in sight.
by Kathleen Cook
May 6, 2020
Taking on the World Today One Pause at a Time
From Tim Okabayashi
I am the only child of my parents, an engineer and an accountant. My destiny to be a left-brained thinker, more quantitative and analytical rather than intuitive, was cast in stone well before I got my hands on my first TI-81 graphing calculator. Growing up as a second-generation quant, I cannot recall many times that were devoted to processing emotions and feelings in my parents’ house. Ours was a family that was and still is more comfortable with cause and effect and, frankly, conversational economy. Myself, I tend to default to the roll of fixer when I see there is pain – either physical or emotional, especially with my children.
Casey and I are raising two wonderful children, each of whom is filled with joy, laughter, and caring hearts. These qualities, however, do not provide them with emotional armor as they are not immune from the rapid and recent changes that have impacted our lives. Emotions and anxieties get expressed in wild ways during our new social distancing phase of our lives where work, school, and home lives collide with each other in a confined space without the other and, until now, underappreciated aspects of our lives that re-center our psyche.
One of our children (I shall refer to her as “Trooper” to give her some anonymity), is such a strong and typically over-functioning girl, having adjusted to and excelled in different learning environments on three different continents by the time she reached the age of seven. But, to have witnessed the outbursts, frustrations, and anxieties that get aimed directly at Casey and me recently while we have been at home has shaken my emotional balance.
Sure, I can see some signs of stress in myself coming from far away, the clenched fists with white knuckles and teeth gritted hard enough to crack years of accumulated dental work. These are the signs that I am loading my emotional volley to be lobbed right back at Trooper to prove with splendid volume and intensity that her parents are “right” and I know how to fix whatever is ailing my little Peanut if she would just listen to me.
I mean, I’m aware of what’s happening in our lives and I get it. There’s been a tremendous amount of change in all our lives. I just can’t fix it. And believe me, I’ve tried - because I can figure this stuff out. I can. Just give me some time and I’ll find a way to make it better. That’s what’s worked for me in the past so why would this be any different.
There’s been some shouting. There’s been crying that leaves a collage of crumpled tissues on the kitchen table.
One recent evening, with my strategic emotional reserves empty, Casey and I were confronted with an onslaught of emotions directed at us. I readied my defensive response position with fists clenched and fingernails digging into my palms, feet set for stability, all things that lead up to a retaliatory retort to show I knew what needed to be done. Instead, I sat down exhaustedly next to Cooper, I mean Trooper, and confessed that I know that I am not overly sensitive to nuanced emotional changes to those around me or even within myself. I didn’t have the energy for another shouting match that left us both crying. I continued to tell her that when presented with an issue, I struggle to be restrained in my approach and just listen. I typically jump immediately into fix-it-mode. My confession, in part, allowed us to reach some level of understanding and sense of calm with each other.
I don’t know what it was about that moment that gave me the courage to be emotionally exposed with my daughter. I don’t recall having been so open with anyone about my personal realizations. Why did I do this at this moment with Trooper? How else might I try to change? These are the things that I reflect on during these days.
In the meantime, I remain committed to breathing more calmly in times of stress, mine and others, and revel in the small joys of our COVID lives. I occasionally lurk in our kids’ online class meetings and smile when I see how they interact with their teachers and friends. I get a first-row seat to watch Trooper tackle fractions. I’ve enjoyed watching Trooper’s resourcefulness as she creates new couture fashion line out of household items. Family meal prep times are things that I shall remember long after I stop checking on COVID statistics. But mostly, I’ve been listening more.
by Tim Okabayashi
April 29, 2020
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
From Jim Avera
“Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.”
From The Country of Marriage Poems by Wendell Berry
This is the beginning of a poem that I first heard read at Covenant sometime in the late 1960’s by Phil Summerlin, Pat Martin’s brother. At that time, we had a worship order that included “Words Coming From the People”. The worship leaders would read something that was meaningful to them (e.g. poem, selected text). On one particular Sunday, Phil read the entire poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front. Since then, it has been read on a number of occasions from the pulpit, including by me. On that first hearing I immediately fell in love with the writings of Wendell Berry.
Over the years, I have collected many of his books, especially poetry. I even went to the farm where he lives and works, and, with a prearranged agreement, met him while he was plowing a field. I was speechless and simply uttered something like, “I have read all your works I can find and really do love them” as I shook his hand. I later regretted that I did not say something that reflected the profundity I felt.
In these current times as the national debate begins to focus on when America should “return to work”, the lines, “When they want you to die for profit they will let you know” have been ringing in my ear! In the 1960’s, when I first heard and read them, I thought of them as a metaphor. Today, I hear them differently.
Today, when I ponder the national debate about healthcare for all, I see a reticence of many to dedicate some of the resources of the wealthiest nation in the world to help save the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled, the uninsured from premature death due to inadequate healthcare. And even more recently I have heard the rawness of the debates about when to “restart America” beginning to rage. I hear the concerns of the urgency of returning to profitable ways of the BCE, “Before Coroanvirus Era”, a decision that could put at risk significant numbers of our population. “When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.”
Daily, I contemplate what my role is in all of this is. At the moment, I am living as a part of an elderly population who could potentially be more at risk if it were not for the good fortune of being protected by our caregivers who provide greater care than that for the average citizen. I also live with the comfort of being retired. I don’t have to face loss of employment, loss of income. I would be foolish to respond to the crisis by putting myself on the front lines, dealing directly with people infected. That would most certainly increase my risk of infection and death. So what should I do? By my reckoning, this is a moral crisis, a challenge to my faith.
This past week, the Bible study at Covenant included in Mark 14:7 Jesus is purported to have said, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” This involved a lot of discussion by those of us sharing the Zoom link regarding what it means, from a social perspective. After all, the “poor” could involve those without a job, those without healthcare, those without a place to live, those without . . .
And so here I sit, dear souls, with an inability to provide a resounding conclusion, but here I also sit, in the midst of a beloved church where I will continue to listen, continue to engage in dialogue, continue to be open to change, continue to look for ways to respond.
You are my community, my sangha.
by Jim Avera
April 22, 2020
From Interrupted to Disrupted
By Raymond Stubblefield
I am comforted by the familiar, and I’m increasingly nostalgic as I grow older. Photographs, books, and mementos sustain a sense of connection to family, friends, faith, and curiosities. Quotidian patterns in unchanged physical surroundings keep my anxieties at bay.
Javier and I have been discussing the purchase of a new home for several years. My nervousness over moving, however, hindered me from progressing beyond a conversation. That changed over the Christmas holidays when we decided it was time to move forward and put our house on the market. Spring break proved to be the ideal time to start this new adventure. I had nine days to go through every drawer, closet, and bookshelf with intention, and I took my time making important decisions: What would go into storage? What should be donated? What would be discarded? We worked tirelessly to get our house ready for potential buyers, winnowing down to bare necessities and depersonalizing every room and space.
On the day of our finishing touches for the realtor’s photographer, local officials issued stay at home orders. Initial disappointment over what I thought to be a slight interruption to our plan turned into a realization that my familiar surroundings and routines have been disrupted. We aren’t putting our house on the market for the foreseeable future, and I miss the photographs, books, and mementos that once surrounded me on nightstands, walls, and cabinets. I’ve been tempted to retrieve a few personal treasures from the storage unit. Instead, I think I will sit with the discomfort and disruption.
My personal experience feels insignificant as I process the loss of life and livelihoods for so many friends and neighbors in our city and across the globe. I am frustrated by a sense of helplessness at the inability to respond in ways other than keeping my distance. Yet, I know that as we each hunker down in our homes, we are taking care of ourselves and one another.
As I reflect from my makeshift home office in a room I’ve never used, I wonder: What new meanings and connections might emerge as I shed old patterns and familiar territory? What new memories and ways of being could develop if I open myself to possibilities?
As followers of Jesus, how might we understand the sacred stories in new and creative ways to bring meaning to our current situation? Using the lens of disruption, can we listen and learn from Jesus’ teachings to sustain more loving relationships and strive for justice?
- Raymond Stubblefield
April 15, 2020
An Eastertide COVID Reflection
By Kristy Kyle
I’m feeling quite unmoored these days. My rhythms are gone, routines lost, replaced with a list of activities that is hard to rank-order in terms of importance. Clean the toilets, work on multiplication tables, make dinner, bathe the pup. Which one to do first? Probably the toilets. Wait - there’s a little boy here who needs to learn how to clean the toilets! Let’s get him! And while we’re on the subject, he’s capable of pushing a vacuum. Can he make a sandwich yet? Oh god, I can’t let him grow up into one of those insufferable men who convince the women in his life to do his domestic work because he was too lazy or too coddled to learn it himself! COVID quarantine! The perfect time for feminism!
Wait…was I doing toilets or bathing the pup? Is it time for dinner yet? What day is it again?
See what I mean. Unmoored.
And I have it a lot better than most. I still have the regular routine of leaving the house to go to work every day. Granted, work is a lot different now than it was a month ago. Only phone calls with our clients. Get the dogs and cats without touching the owners. Don’t get in their cars for goshsakes! Do we have enough masks? Be sure to send the thank you notes out to our seamstresses (Sharon Sanborn!)! Wash the cloth gowns and caps. Keep those gloves on all day - try not to use more than a couple of pairs each day. Is everyone healthy? Anyone call in sick today? Quick, check the bank accounts…we still have enough for payroll. Any word on that paycheck protection program loan? The animals are here! This one has a severe infection and needs surgery right away. Those two over there just ate rat poison. That one got bit at the dog park. Who’s still going to the dog park? There’s more diarrhea and vomitus and blood than we can keep up with some days.
So I get the blessing, and it is a blessing, of leaving the house most days. But I suspect that my work life is no less altered than everyone else’s.
Unmoored. I feel unmoored. I feel it, but when I check in with the deeper core, I realize that my feelings are lying to me. The chaos and eerie quiet and the uncertainty and the worry are all threatening to undo something central and fundamental that I have worked on crafting long before COVID.
When I walked away from the Christianity I was brought up in, I nevertheless held to a core belief that any sort of theism had to bring some level of help and healing to humanity. I doubted, maybe still doubt, in ultimate salvation, but I believe in temporal, situational, relational healing, restoration, recoveries, progress. The whole point of it all is to offer whatever help is ours to offer. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I create meaning from the building blocks that still feel relevant to me. I find comfort in liturgy, in ritual not so much for the meanings given from those rites and rituals, but because they allow me to participate in generations of meaning-making with people, just people, past, present, and future.
I create order out of uncertainty. I provide instruction and advice and guidance to my employees, my clients, my son. I use my experience and intuition to create a path for others and in doing so, I’m creating my own roadways of meaning and purpose.
I am strong, physically yes, but I also have emotional and spiritual strength created from years of holding hands, offering tissues, wrapping dearly beloved bodies for burial, suturing wounds, reassuring the worried, all done without the benefit of leisure time to think and prepare. I know how to be present for someone else’s pain. And being present has made me strong.
I am joyful. I am kind. I am a thoughtful listener. I am demanding. I am precise. I try to say yes as often as I can. I say no when I have to.
I know who I am.
So I’m not truly unmoored by all of this disruption. I’m not unmoored, and, more importantly, neither are you.
Remember those little rituals that used to give your days order, structure. Do you remember the meaning those rituals gave you? Do you remember the meanings you gave them?
Recount, for a moment, who you are, what meaning and purpose you are giving to the world. You are not alone. You are not erased. You are not weak or neutered by fear and worry. You are strong because you are loved. You are compassionate because you are spiritually open and welcoming. You are brave because others have been brave with you.
We, as members of a community celebrating Easter and Eastertide, we are liturgical meaning-makers. We are not truly unmoored when life moves to a different rhythm than we’ve ever lived before. We are not broken because we lose health and security and life. We continue loving and sharing and creating community together because that is who we are called to be, regardless of our circumstances. We do this faithfully because that is who we are. We do this because we cannot live another way. I cannot live another way. I cannot.
My hope for you all this week is that you are able to push aside anxiety and sadness and give a moment or two to remember the fierce, loving warrior that you are and to exult in the greatness that is you! We will need all of our collective glory in the days to come.
Love to you all!
April 8, 2020
April 1, 2020
By Robert Carter
I was browsing through my bookcase the other day and a title caught my eye. It is the title of a book of sermons by Barbara Brown Taylor, “Mixed Blessings. I looked at the title and thought to myself, “Boy does that ever describe the times we find ourselves living in at this moment.” The isolation and the fear that we have all lived under for the last few weeks has been getting our household down and I suspect it has yours also.
Nope can’t shake that hand. This elbow bump business instead of a good hug is so unfulfilling. We have neighbors who can’t even visit their dying loved ones in hospice care in local nursing homes because no visitors are allowed under any circumstance. And this morning a friend whose wife is physician in a local hospital texted me that his wife is working in a hospital with four patients who have been intubated and she has been given a mask that she must wear all week. (She has been given a brown bag to keep it in). Another friends husband needs by-pass surgery that cannot be done at this time, so they are quarantined at home until he can have his surgery. I fear for the survival of our favorite restaurants and their staff. And the bad news goes on and on. So many are now out of work and I know from experiences that no one can really afford to lose his or her lively hood. And the spiral down continues.
The Psalmist is crying for protection from his enemy that “pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me to dwell in darkness like those that are long dead.” His enemy is seen and our enemy at the moment is unseen and that makes it even more frightening for all of us.
But in the midst of the darkness, there are real blessings if we will but see them.
My former boss surprises me with a call to just make sure that my wife and I are ok and to thank me again for all the years of hard work that I put in for him and his family.
Our yard is filled with flowers blooming and birdsong and more importantly – butterflies. We head to the nursery to buy more butterfly plant (milkweed) not because we need to spend the money on them but because it makes us happy to watch the process of hungry caterpillars eating and devouring the plants, forming their beautiful chrysalises, hatching, drying their wings, and flying all round our yard and our heads and the neighborhood. We walk in the evenings with our neighbor – keeping our appropriate distance from each other. And as we walk, we listen to birdsong. We view the beautiful chalk paintings on sidewalks in front of houses. We meet and speak to so many others in the neighborhood who are out doing the same thing. With so many more out walking now it doesn’t seem so isolating.
We cannot meet for choir practice or Sunday morning worship or any other church activity, but watching the videos and reading the readings for the day and especially watching Laura give her time for children and her homily from her office, I feel connected to my church family in a very real way that I did not think was possible. These are all Blessings.
So, in this time stress, I like what Barbara Brown Taylor says, that we need “to learn to give thanks for the mixed blessings …. to say ‘thank you’ for the whole mess, the things we welcome as well as the thing we would risk our souls to escape.”
After our scripture reading each Sunday, the reader says: “These are our sacred stories.” And we all respond, “Thanks be to God.” I like to think that we say those words because it is a way for us to express our belief that no matter what comes along or how dark our path is at times -- God’s love is always there with us. May we like the Psalmist, honestly say:
“Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, Oh Lord
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.”
So, in this very stressful time, let’s remember that there is truly no place in our lives that God is not with us. Let’s be on the lookout for God and the little unexpected “mixed blessings” we encounter as we travel along our paths in the coming days.
March 25, 2020
Reconnecting, Rebooting, Restoring, Relaxing, Rejiggering, Responding, Recording, Resurrecting
By Ann Stout
Today on Braes Bayou the bluebonnets, and pink buttercups and Mexican blankets were out. Also, more people than usual, even for a Saturday, but certainly more than a gray chilly Saturday at the end of spring break. Usually people are traveling back into town, or preparing for the week ahead, catching up on errands or going to the gym. I was also closer to home than I anticipated two weeks ago. Instead of an MS 150 training ride in Brenham I was taking my usual route along the Bayou that is closest to my house.
Usually I would feel disappointed, today I was delighted. Happy with my ability, at least for today, to exercise and be outside and breath easily. All of my loved ones well. Even my inner critic was silent after beating me up all week for flying to Malibu and potentially endangering my family there and here. The concrete -walled ribbon of water attracted a yellow-footed snowy egret, and a great blue heron soared along the channel. Spring flowers pushed up and the scent of the fresh green growth overlay the smell of decaying organic matter in the water – life, LIFE! abundant and rich and irrepressible.
Families with and without children have sprung up like a spring crop, walking or biking on the trail. Two young boys’ race past me on Razor scooters with such glee on their faces that I laugh out loud. They are enjoying the moment in ways adults are only now resurrecting. In my neighborhood people try out little – used front porches, friends who sit six feet away are still much closer than they would be on the phone. The sidewalks bloom with chalk drawings, and voices and laughter carry through the evening air. People greet strangers again in passing. We are all in this together.
My family is too spread out for times like these so we reconnect any way we can. A ten-person group chat of the Stout-Irwin-Kaufman generation gets rebooted and stories are shared, including funny anecdotes, cartoons of the times, and the unfortunate loss of Jennifer’s beloved dog. My son Thomas joined our Marco Polo family group earlier this year as part of his New Year’s resolution to stay more in touch– did he have insider information? Kara and Andrew share the houseplants they are tending for others, and meals, and silliness and we all sing to Gabby on her birthday which is today. I send my picture of a bluebonnet to my college friends who live in San Francisco, Boston and Vienna wishing them wellness in mind, body and spirit, or at least two of the three, and they send flower photos of their own. These are very different posts than the usual social media exchanges. They are smaller, and richer, and precious.
I am sitting on the bay porch draped in Jennifer’s signal flag quilt she made for my birthday last year. I take a picture of my covered legs and the view, and text it to her instead of a hug, and she calls back and we talk, something we rarely do. Inside Tim has built a crackling fire and resurrected his banana bread recipe from when our kids were little, and when I get cold from the rain and wind and chill, I move in to enjoy them both.
That’s not to say there is no fear. Often it leaps up and grabs me by the throat. Is my head a little achy? Did I cough because I swallowed wrong or is this the beginning? I usually never cough. I take my temperature in the morning and afternoon after returning from LA. One afternoon I notice my cheeks are flushed and when I check it, I get 98.9 when it has been 97.1. In a nauseating cold sweat I pull out the old glass mercury thermometer to recheck it. Waiting three minutes by the clock I sit and breathe deeply and try to meditate, praying the Jesus prayer over and over “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. The recheck was 98.6 and I felt my life had been restored, at least for a little while. I have never had to live with this day to day fear, the ever-present angel of death. It is easy to think no one in my generation has, to naively think that we have all had it so ridiculously easy that this unknown fear is newly terrifying to all. But most of the world lives with daily fear- of hunger, or inability to find shelter, or illness, or violence or war, or death. When those stories appear in the news, they fill me with sadness and guilt but not with dread. That is because I have felt remote from them, once removed by my circumstances and geography and advantages and good health. This story is different, potentially sparing no one. How will we respond, not as individuals but as a human species, as prone to extinction as any other?
Unlike other species we can do a rejiggering of how we live on this world and adapt quicker than we can evolve. We can learn from this experience and use it to guide our future. This will take reconnecting to what is really important to humanity – relationships, and love and caring. A process that has already begun even in this moment before the moment. Few of us want more in these next weeks than being able to see the face of our loved ones, staying healthy and free from harm, and being at peace. All the rest of our mundane concerns melt away in the face of this.
Some people have been using the term Apocalypse to talk about these “end” times. I kind of like the word myself. The Greek word apokalupsis, from apokaluptein meaning “to uncover, or reveal”. Much is being uncovered, much is still to come. People empty the shelves at the grocery store of food, taking more than they likely need. At the VA hospital an email is sent out to all employees not to take PPE home with them, as the exterior cameras will catch them. A doctor cancels her elective cases per CDC guidelines and finds herself in an existential crisis as she is berated by her employer. Neighbors of my parents email them to see if they need anything. My husband Tim shops and cooks for us all. My staff text funny things to each other to keep their spirits up. Tim’s assistant offers to drop off extra pasta and potatoes from their Costco run. People reveal their best and worst at times like these. May the best win.
- Ann Stout