What will people think when they look back on this time?
COVID-19, the coronavirus, pandemic, fear, anxiety.
What do we think, we who are in the midst of it now?
COVID-19, the coronavirus, pandemic, thinking, anxiety.
I wonder if we do think about it as we should, as we might. If we consider and contemplate it enough.
It is hard, yes, because there is just so much to reflect upon, so much to think about, to process and try to understand.
And there is so much we will never understand.
COVID-19, the coronavirus, pandemic, thinking, understanding.
And there are so many conflicting messages, each message containing perhaps some truth along with a lot of fear and tension, anxiety about the future.
Perhaps the call for us at this time is to stop, even in the middle of the chaos and the conflict, to look around us … even, if possible, to step outside – mentally if nothing else – and take stock.
COVID-19, the coronavirus, looking, thinking, understanding.
What do we see when we stop scrolling an endless news feed and look up?
Yesterday I stepped outside. I looked up and saw a bird, sitting on a ledge, a strange shimmering substance in its beak. At first I thought the bird might have been searching for material to make a nest. Then it came to me that midsummer is not generally when birds build nests.
I looked closer and realized the shimmer belonged to a dragonfly’s wings. The bird had been hunting and caught a dragonfly midflight. I delight in watching dragonflies skirting through the air, following some strange patterned flight that is theirs alone. But this one now had become food, sustenance, for a bird who had met it in that place both creatures claim – the air.
Within a few seconds, the spectacle had ended. The bird consumed the whole of the dragonfly and, an instant later, took flight once more.
I looked up at a sight that was at once both sad and sacred. It was as if, for a moment, some parts of me also had wings – my sight or my soul – and I beheld this thing in wonder.
COVID-19, wonder, looking, thinking, understanding.
And I have no direct analogy for that thing I saw. No great and deep revelation. It was a thing that takes place a million times in a million ways. It was, that is to say, mundane and ordinary.
But at the same time, it was one in a million. Beautiful and captivating and fierce, this single sampling of nature the moment I looked up.
We surround ourselves and are surrounded by so much that brings sorrow in its fierceness, in its strangeness and the unexpected way it comes upon us.
Yet we are also surrounded by the wondrous and the beautiful.
Beauty, wonder, looking, thinking, understanding.
Perhaps a way to see ourselves through this time, to look back upon it one day with a heart that takes in all the complexity of all that we are seeing and experiencing, is by looking up.
Letting our thoughts take flight, and our hearts.
Or simply beholding some mundane yet sacred portion of nature. Looking, taking it in, and giving thanks for the moment.