April 2020 | Covid-19: Recipes for Disaster and Opportunities for Being

Dear friends,
 
Covid-19 is a wake-up call to our degradation of the Earth and all her species, including ourselves. During the night I heard, Hey, you don’t run the show, you never did run the show, and how are you going to act now?

Young maple leaves. Photo by Diana Badger

Perhaps none of this will be news to you! But let’s start with overexposure to the Media that so often feeds fear, feelings of helplessness and disconnect. As I read in one articleThe mind (you’ve surely noticed) is where the virus dwells, every bit as much as it dwells “out there. (https://janfrazierteachings.com/2020/03/15/the-great-teacher/)
 
Recipe 1   Moderate Your News Intake: Whenever I notice my stress levels building, I look to nourish myself on a soul level. For me, it’s often stepping out of the door, taking some breaths, allowing Nature to enter. Many of the tree leaves opening now, maple and oak, are like flowers in themselves. And the flowers! Ah, iris, narcissus, ceanothus, daffodils. Or, just let the spring birdsong reach one’s ears and heart—a divine tonic!
 
Leslie Davenport (interviewed here in December 2019 and January 2020), a Climate Change Psychologist and author of Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change, suggests other recipes for self, family, and community care at this link. (https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-03-19/leslie-davenport-on-staying-sane-amid-coronavirus-craziness/)

And what of the opportunities to be alone with the Source of All? I’ve been finding it refreshing to cut back on appointments and journeys, and to rediscover the meaning of the opening words of At This Table, Now a window of slowness opens, so this snail can return to itself and its true home.
 
Each of us has our own unique ways of connecting with That and with ourselves. (Are they different?) Do we really want to go back to what was before, as we discover fuller, richer ways of being?

Barn and field under white mist rainbow, Point Reyes. Photo by Rick Hassen

Even as it leaves a trail of death and sickness in its wake, a microbe is earning the name of the Great Awakener. I have found myself continually returning to an article by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Radical Resilience: An Inner Shift, published last summer,
(https://stethelburgas.org/resilience-preparing-for-climate-catastrophe/) which asks us to face and take responsibility for the realities of climate change. It contains the almost prescient, Are we really prepared to confront the forces of nature that our own arrogance and ignorance have unleashed?… What does it mean to live at the end of an era? What does it require individually and collectively? We are present in a moment of profound transition, one that requires our full awareness and participation. And for this work we need resilience, the tools to face our insecurities, our fears as things fall apart, the possibility of social collapse and the patterns of denial that accompany these forebodings. As we accept our grief… and also confront our own… mortality, we need to enquire what are the spiritual roots that can sustain us, the ethical values that are essential to this time of transition? 
 
Why have I kept being drawn to this piece? Because I have found it difficult. It is one thing to say, Yes, to cooperation and connection. But Llewellyn continues, We have to accept that our civilization, with its materialistic values, its addictions to consumerism, is past its sell-by date. Its values and patterns of behavior have become so self-destructive, even psychotic, that it is coming to an end… In light of the current crisis of this pandemic the following sentence now begins to make more sense to me: Taking real responsibility means that we cannot avoid the consequences of our actions. Even if we do not know the future that is waiting, we need to recognize what is happening.

Since I wrote the above, Lllewelllyn has produced a short piece, The Virus and What Happens Next, (https://stethelburgas.org/the-virus-and-what-happens-next/and also released a short video, A Return to Unity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLmNgw_dNGE). To respond to the immediacy of the present moment while holding the seeds of a shared future brings us together as a community committed to our deepest values, to care, compassion, and love.

Pond below white mist rainbow, Point Reyes photo by Rick Hassen

David Spangler, formerly a key figure in the Findhorn Community and who has been given the gift of communication with the Devas and spirit worlds shares his findings on fear, stillness, and love in action in the Lorian Newsletter, A Message in Response to Covid-19. (https://lorian.org/community/2020/3/23/a-message-in-response-to-covid-19). Here is an extract from the message David received from “our subtle colleagues.”
 
You should remember that you are part of the microbial world. While you must do those things at a physical level that preserve your health and immunity, part of that immunity lies in your relationship with that world. Treat it as an ally, not a threat. The world is with you, not against you. Understanding this and responding with love does not mean that you ignore the workings of biology and the dynamics of physical illness. Be wise in ways of prevention and mitigation. What we ask is that you stand in calmness and love and not in fear. Be a steadying presence, not a trembling one. Be the wholeness the world is seeking. As part of Gaia, the microbial world seeks this wholeness, too
 
And David continues in his own words, We believe our greatest threat is fear, the fear that turns us away from each other or against each other. Whatever physical and social actions we must take to ensure moving successfully through this challenge, we should do so as acts of love and mutual caring, not as acts of fear. For example, we can be “socially distant” as an act of love and caring for those who share the world with us, a way to say, “I will protect you by keeping my distance for now, knowing that with love, there is no distance.
 
Our doctors tell us what we must do to protect ourselves and our society. To take a further step, we must also stand in love, cooperation, and connection with each other and with our world. 
 

*****
 
Pir Zia Inayat Khan, Head of the Inayati Order, speaks deeply and eloquently about the opportunities we have been given in this period of self-isolation or Retreat in The Novel Coronavirus and the Life of the Spirit. (https://vimeo.com/397876660?mc_cid=cc39da66f6&mc_eid=0c6dfd530a). He also emphasizes the importance of being grounded through our abdominal breathing and other practices.

There are so many opportunities to help our neighbors or, at the very least, to check on them. My daughter impressed on me the need for someone, like myself in a vulnerable group, to abstain from shopping. It can be hard to ask for help even though I know it gives both the giver and receiver a chance to shine. In the night I was thinking about emailing two younger, healthier neighbors. That morning, when I went online, I found one of them had offered that exact help.
 
Covid-19 is changing our fundamental relationship to life and death on this planet. My own concern is do we want to return to “busyness” as usual? Or will we choose to make a difference individually and collectively by living from our deepest selves? Please don’t underestimate the effect of your inner work and outer actions rippling into the world.


unlikely and least
            after e e cummings
 

when faces called flowers come out rain-
splashing all rainbow bands but green
and treely buds whisper crimson again
hills come alive skipping echoes
hearts and wings fast flutter with spring
 
scent plum blossom reels
the naked come clothed and the clothed
shyly naked, for all is giddy
and skyless, tumbling in vastness and outness
Earth’s belly first cries spring
 
while those under the willow broken
cry out—their ringing passion 
midwifing―crocus shoots rise 
felt yet unseen in faces 
unlikely and least 

From At This Table