It’s Easter weekend as I write this, when Christians celebrate the victory of life over death. Whatever your faith or philosophy, may resurrection – new life bursting forth, life triumphing over death – mark your days, and may you cherish the gift of life, grabbing it with your heart and hands wide open.
It’s been quite an eventful few weeks for the resident sweetie and me. It started with a trip to Ontario, where we both grew up. It involved lots of visiting and trips down memory lane. Finally, after 2 1/2 years we could hug and hold our loved ones.
And then, our visit came to a screeching halt.
(I bet most of you could see that coming, eh? The common opinion now is that it’s not IF you get Covid, but WHEN it happens.)
Instead of mingling and enjoying and catching up, we were isolated in a single room that was the guest suite in brother John’s apartment. A guard was placed at the door of our prison to make sure we didn’t try to break the rules (not really, but the superintendent was super vigilant and let us know in no uncertain terms that we were grounded.) Our holiday was now dead in the water.
We are home again, and I’m trying to process the whole experience. Dead is a good word to describe those days of isolation. We weren’t feeling well, so we napped a lot, watched TV, and read the books that I’d brought along. We were not part of the living world going on outside our window. We could see people coming and going, bringing in bags of groceries, walking the dog, pausing to chat. Cars drove by on the road, going here and there. Voices drifted by outside our door as neighbours exchanged news and views. But we were not part of it. Surprisingly, time kept ticking away the minutes and hours, even though our world stood still.
This concentrated experience of being “dead to the world” is not something I’d like to repeat. And yet? A Facebook post by Parker Palmer that arrived on my computer today reminds me that being “dead to the world” is a state in which I often exist. Sometimes, I walk through the days with my head down and my ears stoppered, oblivious to the sights and sounds of the world around me. Sometimes, I build my own little prison walls to shut out rampant injustice and greed. I skitter into my hidey hole where nothing is asked of me. Sometimes, we grow thick shells around our hearts so we don’t feel the pain that much of humanity suffers. Sometimes, we deaden our senses with large doses of entertainment, drugs, alcohol – whatever works so we don’t have to feel all the emotions and think all the thoughts that happen when we experience life as it really is. It’s so much easier not to feel anything, not to be spurred to action.
Unfortunately, when we are “dead to the world” we won’t see the actual miracles that are happening all around us – miracles of compassion, sacrifice, support, beauty.
We won’t feel the caring web of community that surrounds us if we but reach out.
We may not see the alternate paths we can walk that lead to healing and new life.
For sure, there are times when we have to retreat into darkness and wait until a light appears to guide us out. Resting quietly is important when you are overtired, anxious, panicky, depressed, grieving, isolated with Covid. Sit quietly in the dark when you have come to the end of your rope. But then it is time to look for the light that is surely there; this kind of little death is not the end of the story.
So we came out of Covid isolation. We were resurrected.
It wasn’t easy. We felt vulnerable, a little shaky. But we slowly re-entered the world, a little hesitantly and timidly, knowing more than we did when we began that journey. Coming back into the world allowed us to experience the love of family and friends that surrounds us every day. I walked in the woods; after the deadness of winter, nature had rebounded with a great burst of growth and life. Al began working in the garden again – the garlics are up! The blueberries are ready to blossom! I did a little sewing, a little art, a little writing. Slowly, creativity is unfolding again.
Yes, I know: the dead times will happen again. We’re going to get battered and bruised by life, we’ll have doubts and sadness, we’ll say goodbye to precious people, we’ll be disappointed and angry. That’s because life is ... well, life is life.
But it is also a precious gift, and the realization of that is perhaps the gift that dark times, dead times, brings us.