Today I want to say, “Congratulations!”

Congratulations because we are getting through this time. I am proud of us, navigating this enormous collective lesson together. There has been so much new to deal with, all in a framework of confining circumstances.  Some of these circumstances are rubbing off our sharp edges in a good way. Some of these circumstances are just wearing us down. What will remain awaits to be seen, but I am hopeful that we will be a kinder, more loving and open-hearted collective at the end of this. 

I am hopeful that isolation has helped us weary of polarizing each other in useless arguments and name calling. I am hopeful when we meet up again face to face we will glory in each other’s faces and not so much dwell on our differences. I am hopeful we will be so grateful for the chance to visit that we’ll not be so hell bent on finding the things we disagree about.

I see signs this edge rubbing has helped us already to find better manners and our best selves. The scene at my grocery store has gone from toilet paper free-for-all to love fest.  As I walked the aisles this morning, I heard many sweet exchanges between customers and staff.  The air hummed with a feeling of gratitude for something vaguely normal like pushing a cart through a grocery store with only four hundred reminders what six feet distance actually is.

One sign said it was the distance between one moose antler and another. Hmmmm  A fun fact but not exactly how I measure this distance, even after forty years in moose country!  

In any case, when we get to see only a few people in any given week, it’s hard to miss how precious everyone is regardless of their differences or maybe even because of them.

I am feeling grateful for pretty much everything these days, and it’s seems like you are too. What a gift to feel more gratitude for the simple things we took for granted a year ago. 

Lizzie and I take a walk very early every morning. Recently it’s been more of a snow stomping as we work to maintain a path through the deep snow of our woodland route. We always run into the same neighbors at the same place on our loop. I knew these neighbors to say hello to before the pandemic. We still don’t know each other well, but now we greet each other as old friends. Neighbors have become more precious than ever.  

And the mail! I greet the mail with a similar whoop of joy.  I have always loved letters. In the office we have always poured over your missives and read them aloud to each other. BUT NOW, we read them, then reread them, then hang them up to read again.  Small pleasures have become such big ones. I am not sure I will ever move through the world without a gratitude for everything. I hope not.

One letter came from a beloved in LA. Not only has her family experienced big economic challenges and extremely confining circumstances, but she went through her own perilous experience which she shared with us in a matter of fact manner that reflected her imperishable faith in life.

As an octogenarian, her hips are not as spry as her agile and expansive mind. She fell, far from her phone and could not get up. She knew a relative was coming to visit in a couple of days, and she knew she would have to lie there and just be until then. Three days it was.  This woman’s spiritual practice has long inspired me, but here in this hour, she reached deep into herself and proceeded through her days on the floor with calm, fearlessness, attention to all that was good in the world.  She kept her mind on the Light and the Light kept focused on her.

When I read her letter, I had to read it over and over. What a story. What an example to us all. When the going got beyond tough, she dug deep into herself and just kept going.  Not with self-pity or despair, but with a decision to reach into her inner resources and use them all. And she did. And she prevailed. I felt such a rush of gladness she was safe and such a rush of awe at the grace with which she moved through this experience.

And I feel that way about all of us. Who amongst us would have invited a pandemic into their lives? Nonetheless, we made peace with this uninvited guest and made the best of it. Yes, I hope the uninvited guest is packing bags to go, but won’t we all have gained some gifts from this time, not just war wounds? Won’t we all have stories to tell about the time of Covid? Won’t we all feel bonded by sharing this time together? Won’t we all have learned so very much about how much the chance to love each other matters? I think so.

As I finish this, I recall the Rumi poem, The Guesthouse

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

a joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows

who violently sweep your house

empty of all its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.