When we stepped out under the stars last night, my husband said, “Listen,” and we heard the resounding silence that has overtaken town. Even the neighborhood dogs on their long chains seem to have gone indoors.
Some hours, I feel strong, like I was made for this. All those years making sourdough, sewing long underwear, and developing my inner introvert leave me uniquely adapted to isolating during a pandemic. A chance to bring back the family cloth? I am so ready and willing. See that pile of baskets? Just let the world end.
Other hours, like those that interrupt nights before I work a nursing shift at the hospital, I feel the weightlessness of free fall. What is happening and why is there such a large knot in my chest?
While we find ourselves suspended, hanging upside down in an otherworldly pause, I take shelter in Michael Meade, whose mythic perspective is my prescription for the unknown, and whose reflections on the virus have fortified me for the road ahead: The Second Level of Hope and A Time of Conscious Descent
Go ahead and despair, he says. That’s the beginning, not the end.
And this essay by the radical truth teller Paul Kingsnorth allows me to bear witness to this incredible, horrible, beautiful unraveling, and to deepen into the Great Pause that is our only remedy right now.
A friend pointed out that on each day home with her children, it is as if their true faces are revealed to her. I feel that way, too. We’ve been given a chance to take off the many masks we wear in our day to day lives back in ordinary time, and to return to something original about who we are.
Empty out the baskets. Let’s see what fills them when we stop trying.