Its a mid week morning and I’ve completed my usual routine of reading the news, listening to voice mails, reading through texts and emails. Over the last three days of this ritual, here are some of the things I’ve learned…
Over 300,000 dead and counting from Covid in the United States alone. As reported to me by my favorite cousin, another cousin died last week. Yet another was told to get his papers in order as his health will not see him through the coming year. I learned that my 93 year old friend’s daughter died. Just died, no pre-existing conditions. An acquaintance who was until one year ago vigorous and in the prime of her career is languishing with the horrors of ALS. Her doting husband can but support, weep and watch. A brilliant writer friend at the peak of his talents has entered hospice. A lifelong friend is dealing with cancer that is treatable but cancer none the less. A colleague and world renowned dancer/choreographer died suddenly in her sleep. A covid stricken friend is struggling on a ventilator. A middle-aged pal is at a moment of crisis as he looks at life and wonders where his life partner is? Where his house is? Where money for retirement is going to come from? He’s scared. A young friend in an hour of profound grief, is struggling to keep himself from suicide. Another young man, 24, battling cancer for his life. The sea churns. If you are the praying kind and if you have a moment, please offer up a prayers of light, particularly for these two young men.
I reflect on all these recent and ongoing events whilst sitting in a sun filled Southern California breakfast nook that today overlooks a calm sea. There is food in my pantry, there are presents to be wrapped and put under the tree. In the obscene bounty of this privilege, I become keenly aware that the best of life could be snatched away in an instant and I ask by what thread of mercy am I spared in this moment from being plunged into an abyss? I think of when I muttered some frustration over opening an overly sealed new pair of scissors earlier this morning. Appalled at my hubris I cancel my grumpiness over the mundane and instead rejoice that there is a mundane at all. I wonder what paltry strength I could send, what lifting thought could pierce a friend’s struggle? More than that I wonder how the human spirit bears such devastations? I am in awe of those moments when I’ve witnessed a friend reach for flotsam and jetsam to stay afloat midst a life storm. When they’ve managed, by act of will and/or divine intervention, to change the energy, become unmesmerized by the apparent black hole of their surroundings and emerge one thought, one breath at a time into the light.
The sea churns. It changes its own inner landscapes on a regular basis to create new realities, redesigned horizons, newly formed shorelines. I suppose if we can but choose to exist in the place of not knowing and can manage to breathe deeply within that space, if we allow ourselves to know we’re doing the best we can in that moment and the next, we can find grace enough to go with the churn, however painful. Particularly in this Christmas season of renewal I wish for all of us the grace to let go, the resilience to hang on, the joy of riding a perfect wave and smooth sailing on calm seas.