Stirrings of Spring
Welcome March equinox! Do you know where your balance is? It’s hard to maintain perspective in these harrowing times. The sun, a clarion call mobilizing the life force into action, shines equally now on north and south, a pause, as it slowly lengthens its reach northward. Let us all take a moment to exhale.
There are daffodils blooming in New Mexico where I was last weekend just before the axe of social distancing descended. On my flight out from Boston, I saw only a handful of people cleaning their seats and tray tables with Lysol wipes. On my flight home five days later, the routine was so widely practiced that flight attendants announced that passengers should not put wipes into their seat-back pockets, but that someone would come through the cabin to collect them.
Plague. We are pursued by an invisible enemy. The corona virus may be “novel” but it is only the latest rendition of an ancient tale. At the beginning of Oedipus the King by Sophocles, the Greek city state of Thebes is wracked by disease and famine. People are dying. The priests, who have gathered to pray, plead with King Oedipus to help them. When his brother-in-law Creon returns from the Oracle at Delphi with the dictum to find and punish the murderer of the previous king, Laius, Oedipus springs into action.
Current circumstances give me a deeper appreciation of Oedipus’ position. Driven by the desire to alleviate the fear and suffering of his people, he is compelled to act. This is the strong counter balance that motivates his search for a murderer, an enemy, who turns out to be Oedipus himself. He killed Laius, the man who was his father. He married Jocasta, the woman who gave him birth. This drama begins in terror and ends in horror with Jocasta taking her own life and Oedipus gouging out his eyes. A deeply buried truth must be revealed for the community to regain health and balance.
What secrets about the dark underbelly of the inequities of human society must we face to win our battle against the spread of the corona virus and the collective dis-ease that is upending our world financially as well as physically? The least fortunate among us—the homeless, the institutionalized, the poor, all must be cared for. We are told to practice social distancing, but ironically as we do, we are practicing social caring. To protect ourselves, we must also protect others. We are all in this together. The corona virus makes no ethnic, national, or socio-economic distinctions.
The invisible enemy wears the crown. This microscopic life form is the “inconvenient truth” of the hour. How will we collectively meet this challenge? As Shakespeare reassures us, “Time and the hour run through the roughest day.” The wheel of the year is turning from winter round to spring, but a new understanding of winter’s chill has scored deep runnels of doubt into our sense of security. On a molecular level we fight to survive; life hangs in the balance.
Is my immune system battle ready? Perhaps, but it’s a gamble, and certainly I know of others, friends and family, who are more vulnerable than I. We strengthen our ability to survive when we fight together. Can our healthcare systems over-ride nature’s supreme indifference, which advocates only the survival of the fittest? It is up to us to act with compassion. In this time of crisis, we are called upon to surrender some degree of our personal freedom for the public good. In social solidarity, we will find salvation.
We need to separate our fear from the virus as we mobilize our collective resources and pull together. What are the necessities of survival that we are called upon to provide? and for whom? As crones, while we may be physically vulnerable, we have deep reservoirs of courage and resiliency. We have weathered crises before. Our positive attitude can inspire others. By allowing ourselves to be cherished and cared for where we are vulnerable, we give others the chance to feel needed and loved.
Even as we are stretched and challenged, we are also grateful for all we have including the tools of technology to stay connected with friends and loved ones while physically apart.
Be safe out there,
Balance comes when we let go of our fear and live fully in the present. A friend asked me what I was doing for fun during my stay-at-home time. At 96, she is indulging her passion for painting and doing amazing things with water color. I ponder her question as I enjoy the sweet perfume of the hyacinths that bloom in the pool of sunlight on my desk. Consider what it is that gives you joy. Embrace it and find time to immerse yourself in the beauty of the present moment so that whenever your time comes to die, you will do so with the satisfaction of having fully lived.