Better Conditions

This month, we have been reminded of our own fragility, that our existence is contingent upon other things. And in the midst of this collective realization, we lack certainty. How much will the virus spread? When will we get to see our parents or our children or our friends again? How bad will this get? How much will the economy suffer? Couple that with completely lack of faith in the leadership of this country, things can appear rightfully bleak. I mean, it’s a global pandemic.

We want to gather our people together and keep them under one roof, keep them where we can see them and care for them. But even this instinct, we are being told, should not be trusted. It breaks my heart, not knowing when I’ll see some of the people I love the most again, when we will be able to breathe deeper again. We wonder, when, life will be turned back right-side up. We pray. We hope.

I have been thinking about things which are contagious, like viruses. When things spread among us, we call them “viral” for a reason. Fear, panic, rumors spread like viruses. But kindness, too, is contagious. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from Isaiah, “I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Do you perceive it? Can you see it? Can you see the relief, the food, the light, the love, in front of you, springing forth?

My husband, one of the people I love the most in this world, received crushing news last night about someone he loves most in the world. The waves of grief are rolling in. We see them from the shore of where we stand now. And honestly, where we’re standing, alone in our home, is heartbreaking in its own way, too. That these two crises, these two tragedies, these two uncertainties are converging is unbearable. Unfair. Unfathomable.

Hafiz, the 14-century poet, wrote, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions, for your mother and my mother were friends.”Fear is evolutionary; it is protective, at least it starts out that way. It can quickly become destructive, like a flesh-eating bacteria consuming us from the inside. All the people I love and cherish, I want better rooms for them.

You know what else is protective? Joy. It sounds cheesy to say, looks trite to write, but somehow it’s the truest thing I can perceive now. It reminds us that more things are sustained than destroyed, at any given time, even in the middle of a global pandemic. There are still things to cherish, and animals to love, and people to love, and music to be listened to, and the day to receive.

I cannot solve my husband’s heartbreak. I cannot even heal it. I can only be with him in it. I can only cry with him. I can only hold him, so that he knows we will face whatever comes together. If I have learned anything in the past 24 hours, it is that life is precious.

Do something restorative today. Dance around your house. Read something beautiful. There are many different ways to give and receive love. There are many ways to open your heart and mind to grace, ways that turn the volume down on the fear.

Sending you all love.

* * *

Fear is the cheapest room in the house
I would like to see you living
in better conditions,
for your mother and my mother
were friends.

I know the Innkeeper
In this part of the universe.
Get some rest tonight,
Come to my verse tomorrow.
We’ll go speak to the Friend together.

I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Pray
somewhere in this world –
something good will happen. God wants to see
More love and playfulness in your eyes
For that is your greatest witness to Him.

Your soul and my soul
Once sat together in the Beloved’s womb…
Your heart and my heart
are very, very old
Friends.”

Hafiz