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Love in the time of Pandemic

Love in the time of Pandemic

My daughter, Alysha, and son-in-law, Eric, live within walking distance of me.

The other morning Eric phoned to say he had left something on the porch for me. Would I come out and get it.



I went out and there they were at the end of the walk holding up a large sign that read “You are going to be a Grandma”.

I was over the moon. So happy for them. And for me. Thrilling and welcome news. 

News that would normally propel us into a flurry of hugs and kisses.

But these aren’t normal times.

Except for people living under the same roof, physical distancing is suddenly the new norm. No matter how much I yearn for physical contact, a celebratory hug, a pot luck feast with a table full of friends engaged in conversation or checking in on an elderly friend in a nursing home – all are off limits now. Even sharing a car with my daughter is out.

Some restrictions seem inhumane. That people cannot care for or hold a dying loved one haunts me. 

What to do?

The mammal that I am believes that to be isolated from my family, my community means I am risking death. The isolated one, the castoff, has to be on high alert, constantly scanning for danger. This made sense when my ancestors roamed the savannas and had to avoid large carnivores. Now, however, in the time of pandemic I need to override my underlying sense of isolation uneasiness and grieve for my present day losses. 

I live alone. I am sad that I can’t hug my family, share an easy meal and conversation. I miss ready contact and companionship. I wonder if supply chains will last. Have I got enough food? I don’t like the restrictions on my movement. I’ve lost some clients.

The magnitude of the changes, the speed with which the world ground to a halt unnerves me. I spent the first week in lockdown feeling disoriented and searching out information trying to make sense of what and how and why. I know the only constant is change. I’ve read histories of plagues and pandemics, sudden wars and migrations. I believe our first world overconsumption is unsupportable and that we need earth friendly alternatives. In theory I get that enormous change can happen in the blink of an eye. Living it feels different. The sudden halting of my familiar world remains unsettling. 

And yet….

Pollution is clearing over cities. Inequalities are undeniable – How can I wash my hands if I don’t have running water? How can I self isolate if I don’t have a home? – which could lead to systems valuing human dignity. People are reaching out to each other, gathering in creative ways to share ideas, music, fun over the internet. Local communities are forming and performing acts of generosity and compassion. Global communities are gathering to meditate and contemplate together.

Alysha, Eric and I have zoomed a couple of times and had distanced conversations. I’ve shared meals by phone. My intentional community has taken to Saturday evening gatherings. Rather than my solitary morning meditations, I’ve joined an early morning meditation group. I chat on the phone more often. 

I limit my consumption of media now, structure my days, or at least make a good effort to. Like so many of us I’ve turned to simple, familiar comforting routines. I’ve been baking. Tending a garden. Making sure I do my regular morning joint rotation and stretch routine. On line I search out people who have perspectives that feel wise, enlightening  and expansive to me.

I remind myself when I feel restricted and impatient, that however this pandemic resolves, there is opportunity here for profoundly needed change. This is a pause in the time of a great transition. A time to hold steady, to reflect, if necessary  to cook in the the cauldron of our collective juices. It’s a time for distillation to essence. What matters?

My Reiki group gathers daily in a virtual circle to hold the intention of healing in this time. When I join this circle here is the intention I hold:

May the earth heal.

May our immune systems be strong and healthy and protect us from unwanted viruses.

May we create systems that are beneficial for all living beings.

I’m going to be a grandmother and oh I long for this child to come into a kinder, more compassionate world.


Turning 70

Turning 70


I’m sitting on lichen covered rock on the edge of a small gulf island off the coast of Vancouver Island. There’s a stiff breeze coming off the water. It’s early and chilly. This will be the longest day of the year. The cool reminds me that summer solstice marks the great turning back toward winter. Reminds me that light and dark are indivisible

After 9:39 this morning we will be heading inexorably in the direction of breath fog and boots. Geese in formation heading south. Grey days and rain.

But first will come the hot days of July and August – golden grasses; festivals; the harvest.

Today is my seventieth birthday.

Behind me, just back up from the rock ledge, the low murmur of morning greetings, a semicircle of small tents, the smell of the first coffee of the day. I’m here with five wise, accomplished and rambunctious aging women. We’ve been friends a long time, some, before babies. Our kids are close to thirty now. We camp together at least a couple of times a summer, reveling in each other’s company. Our conversations are revealing and immensely satisfying; our meals, feasts. We read and paint and walk alone or in twos and threes; roar with laughter and sometimes weep. This trip we are missing a few – one to a broken wrist, another to her art show, another to a progressive illness.

This seventieth birthday feels like a Big Deal, a demanding transformation. More than a slide – whups – there I went, late middle to old.

I’ve read that as men age they naturally turn inward, connect with their yin energies, the emotional empathetic aspect of their natures. Women on the other hand, this particular narrative goes, turn outward, leave home to pursue careers or tackle new adventures in the larger world.

Maybe this inner imperative I feel to grow, to be bigger, to step forward – be seen, step up, speak up, own who I am and share what I know – is part of a developmental thrust. The old woman, the crone emerging, is shaking off ancient fears, like a dog shakes free of water after a swim. I’ll burn. They won’t like me. I’ll be ostracized. Off they fly.

And so here I sit in the pause, the limbo, the unfamiliar. Late blooming.

Transitioning. Transforming.

Today is my birth day.