To say that these are complicated and difficult times is putting it mildly. Every day, I come up with new layers of meaning and truth in this thing we call life but that is now tinged with a new color called “survival.” Much is being asked of us all, but we are not all cooperating. To some, this has all gotten way too political, while to others, it has spilled over into a sense of freedoms being violated. Have they been? And who, in the end, is (or should be) the ultimate authority here? And to quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “How did it come to this?” (King Theoden in Lord of the Rings-“The Two Towers)
To put it as simply as possible, I do not know. I have no answers for any of it. All I can be sure of is what I am prepared to do and what I am actually doing in order to protect, not only myself, but others, including all those I profess to care deeply about. But beyond that? I am clueless.
Back in March, when the enormity of this thing finally descended fully upon me, I took a cautious and hesitant approach. As I do with most things, I processed what information I had at the time methodically and carefully. I decided that the smart thing to do would be to adhere to all the guidelines, pay attention to all the updates, and keep my eyes, ears, mind and heart open. I decided to let common sense take over, and that’s the course I’ve been on since then.
Has it been easy? Not even remotely. During the last several weeks, I’ve had some good days during which I’ve tried to stay as busy and occupied as possible, which is generally not difficult for me, as I have lots of interests and hobbies. But then, without warning, a dark cloud comes over me, and it all grinds to a halt. I start thinking…and thinking…and that leads to brooding, which devolves into melancholia and which almost always leads to tears. I’ve tried to notice the triggers…sad music, old photos, certain smells…all evocative of other better times before I lost my way. Even before this, those triggers weren’t healthy, and they are even less so now as I have fewer exits away from them.
As time went by, however, my spirit started settling into a new space, one that was no longer feeling as unfamiliar to me. And I realized that, despite the upheaval I was feeling on some levels of my existence, things on other levels were as they have always been. The familiar comforting things were reminding me that they were still there and still willing to offer me the same solace they’ve always afforded me.
This all became apparent to me the other day when I was sitting outside reading. I heard a quick flutter, and when I looked up from my book, there on the bird feeder was a single chickadee. It pecked at the seeds for a few seconds, managed to grab onto a whole one, and flew off. It came back a few more times, as did others, all of them chirping merrily as they came and went. Chickadees and other small birds are able to crack a sunflower seed open with just their beaks, letting the empty shells fall to the ground, where they accumulate among the flowers and other things growing there…
And that’s when it hit me. While my own life’s been turned upside down these last weeks, nothing has changed in the world of Nature. When the floor under me has righted itself, when the boat I’m in stops rocking for awhile, there it all is…the world of birds and trees and flowers and clouds and stars…exactly as it all was before I lost my way.
While there is certainly upheaval in Nature, its resilience is inspiring. A friend of mine posted a photo of some beautiful flowers on Facebook earlier today, and I thought, “How can anyone feel sad while looking at that? ” It’s hard to feel blue when I see a flock of small birds doing what they always do…flying at the feeder to get their share and not crowding each other out in the process…hanging back to give others a chance…chirping and singing and taking their turn when it comes. So there it is, my solace…in the simple things I had lost sight of…the things that God put into this world to bring me comfort and to remind me that, no matter how bad things are or seem, there they are…just waiting for me to notice again.