Just Wear It

Just wear it.

At first, the scientists and healthcare folks were saying they didn’t know how much good it did. They suggested that it might not matter. But as more people began to study this thing, it became clear that, yes, wearing masks–while not providing absolute protection–can actually provide a medically significant barrier to the droplets which are the main point of infection. Sneezing, coughing, laughing, singing, talking, breathing–these activities spread the droplets that carry the virus. Wear a cloth mask, and you reduce the chances that you are infecting someone else. If you’re both wearing them, the chances are doubly reduced.

Health care workers have been wearing masks to work for decades. Even with asthma. Even with respiratory issues. Cloth masks don’t filter out the fresh oxygen. They don’t hold in the carbon dioxide. They’re not meant to do that. They’re meant to filter droplets. They don’t always do that in a 100% foolproof way, but they reduce the transmission of droplets. They do that enough that the country’s top medical professionals and scientists seem to agree that we should all be wearing them in public places these days.

I’m not a scientist or a healthcare professional. But I would rather listen to their wisdom on this issue than the politicos and the screamers in the agora.

Look. If you call yourself pro-life, you have to wear the mask. It’s the real choice for protecting life. If you call yourself pro-justice, you have to wear the mask. It helps to equalize our chances of survival. If you call yourself a reasonable person, just wear it. Wear it like you wear your seatbelt. Wear it like you wear your bike helmet. Wear it like you wear a jacket to protect yourself from the cold.

This isn’t a conspiracy meant to take away your freedom. It’s not an illuminati cabal meant to mark you as belonging to the beast. It’s not a liberal hoax meant to take down the president and destroy the power of white men. It’s not a fear tactic meant to take away your faith in a God who will protect you.

It’s just a piece of cloth that will help to hinder the droplets that could cause one person to infect another. It’s just basic good citizenship.

Just wear it. Please.


Gratitude List:
1. Hummingbird is back. Yesterday she spent a long time drinking from the mini-petunias, then gazed in the window at me.
2. My bridges. My anchors-with-wings. My voices in the storm. My clear-eyed gazers. I am blessed in friends who keep me from flying off in the gales–unless flying is what is best for me, of course. Friends who remind me who I am. Friends who keep me woven within the narrative.
3. The yellow iris. I know they’re invasive and weedy. I know we have to cut them back or they’ll choke the pond. I also now that they’re beautiful and resilient. You cut one stalk, bring it inside, put it in water, and one flower blooms. That one dies and another blooms below it. Then another and another. This one is on its fifth or sixth bloom. And they’re the fiercest sort of yellow.

May we walk in Beauty!


“In ancient Africa, in the Celtic lands, storytellers were magicians. They were initiates. They understood the underlying nature of reality, its hidden forces. The old Celtic bards could bring out welts on the body with a string of syllables. They could heal sickness with a tale. They could breathe life into a dying civilization with the magic of a story.” —Ben Okri


“I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply inside.” —Rosa Parks


“The historian deals with the past, but the true storyteller works with the future. You can tell the strength of an age by the imaginative truth-grasping vigour of its storytellers. Stories are matrices of thought. They are patterns formed in the mind. They weave their effect on the future. To be a storyteller is to work with, to weave with, the material of time itself.” —Ben Okri


“Storytellers are the singing conscious of the land, the unacknowledged guides. Reclaim your power to help our age become wise again.” —Ben Okri


“If it’s not about love, then it’s not about God.” —Rev. Michael Curry


“I just want to celebrate you as you are, instead of waiting for you to become what the world expects you to be.” ―Rachel Macy Stafford


“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories. . .water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.” ―Clarissa Pinkola Estés


“Do you have an unconscious belief that the forces of evil are loud, vigorous, and strong, while good is quiet, gentle, and passive? Gather evidence that contradicts this irrational prejudice.

“Are you secretly suspicious of joy because you think it’s inevitably rooted in wishful thinking and a willful ignorance about the true nature of reality? Expose these suspicions as superstitions that aren’t grounded in any objective data you can actually prove.

“Do you fear that when you’re in the presence of love and beauty you tend to become softheaded, whereas you’re likely to feel smart and powerful when you’re sneering at the ugliness around you? As an antidote, for a given amount of time, say a week or a month or a year, act as if the following hypothesis were true: that you’re more likely to grow smarter when you’re in the presence of love and beauty.” ―Rob Brezsny


“The words you speak become the house you live in.” ―Hafiz


Mary Oliver:
“I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.”


“If someone asks, ‘What does perfect beauty look like?’
Show him your own face and say, like this.” —Rumi

Coronavirus Dream

No raccoons this morning. I am such a worrywort, and when I start to care deeply, then I begin to worry about Every Little Thing. We’re assuming that Mama came back for her baby sometime yesterday when we weren’t watching. We’re assuming that she didn’t take them up this tree last night–I have read that they often choose different hiding places each day or week. Just because I kept smelling fox yesterday doesn’t mean that they’ve encountered the raccoons, and just like the raccoons need to feed their littles on birds’ eggs, foxes need little raccoons to feed their littles, so the cycle of life continues. . .


Two nights ago, I dreamed I met a llama. Nothing more remains of that dream, except the llama coming to greet me.

Last night I had my first coronavirus dream. Jon and I were going somewhere in the car, and I realized that I didn’t have my mask along. I told Jon I needed to use his, but he was pretty strict about sharing masks and said I couldn’t use his. The people in the building where we were going to be were all pretty skeptical about social distancing and mask-wearing, so I NEEDED to have my mask to keep me and them safe, and to normalize mask-wearing. Just as we pulled in to the place, I found a scarf in the car, so I wrapped it around my head like a hijab, covering my mouth and nose, although I knew the people in the building would find that triggering.


Gratitude:
Color is so important to me. This morning, Indigo Bunting and Blue Jay were at the feeder together. Moments after they flew away, a bright red cardinal and a glowing yellow goldfinch flew in, followed a red-bellied woodpecker with its cap on fire.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Stars are an excellent medicine for homesick hearts.” —F W Boreham


“Radical simply means grasping things at the root.” ―Angela Davis


“If you put three or four disassociated ideas together, and created awkward relationships with them, the unconscious intelligence that comes from those pairings is really quite startling sometimes, quite provocative.” —David Bowie


“Dehumanizing others is the process by which we become accepting of violations against human nature, the human spirit, and, for many of us, violations against the central tenets of our faith.” —Brené Brown


“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only [s]he who sees, takes off [her] shoes.”
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“I do not see a delegation for the Four Footed. I see no seat for the Eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior. But we are after all a mere part of Creation. And we must consider to understand where we are. And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the Ant. Somewhere and only there as part and parcel of the Creation.” —Oren Lyons


“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed—to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as it is.” —Parker J. Palmer


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ―Maya Angelou


This is how I would die
into the love I have for you:
As pieces of cloud
dissolve in sunlight. ―Rumi


Werifesteria: To wander longingly through the woods in search of mystery. (No one seems to know if this is an actual Old English word, as the internet says, but I don’t really care. It’s a word now.)


“Keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive” ―Martha Graham


“When Paul said, ‘Help those women who labor with me in the Gospel,’ he certainly meant that they did more than pour out tea.” ―Julia Foote


In Japanese (again, according to the internet), tsundoku means, “the act of buying books and not reading them, leaving them to pile up.”

Mask

I woke up really tired this morning. I’m hitting an energy wall. I’m glad it’s Saturday.


Gratitude List:

  1. Soft fur, soft feathers, soft blankets
  2. Wildness
  3. Wind
  4. Poetry
  5. Perspective

    May we walk in Beauty!

“Nobody’s on the road
Nobody’s on the beach
There’s something in the air
The summer’s out of reach…” —Don Henley


‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” —Roger Ebert


In a mist of light
falling with the rain
I walk this ground
of which dead men
and women I have loved
are part, as they
are part of me. In earth,
in blood, in mind,
the dead and living
into each other pass,
as the living pass
in and out of loves
as stepping to a song.
The way I go is
marriage to this place,
grace beyond chance,
love’s braided dance
covering the world.
—Wendell Berry
(The Wheel)


”You have to begin to tell the story of your life as you now want it to be, and discontinue the tales of how it has been or of how it is.” —Esther Hicks

On the Dream Scene

In the dream, I am back in a little town where I have often found myself in dreams. It’s a fully realized little town, with neighborhoods and trees and people and traffic. It’s miles away from any other town or city, out in a scrubby desert. On the outskirts of town are several truckyards–I suppose this is the source of the town’s thriving economy. But this is something I know from previous dreams about the place.
**
In this particular dream, we are living in a house (that I think belongs to us or a friend). People come and go through the property, and the path leads over a steep, muddy embankment in the corner of the yard. When I skid down over the hill, I realize at the bottom that the mud and grass cover an enormous quartz crystal “colony.” Some beautiful points are visible beneath the mud. Bits have broken off, and points and broken pillars of crystal scatter the lower yard. They’re so clear and shiny, even amidst the mud that they look almost more like Herkimer Diamonds than Quartz. I collect LOTS of random pieces, and someone has left baskets of stones and little carvings and treasures on the sidewalk near our house. I know that they are for us, if we want them, so I decide to come back and get them later, along with several of the more beautiful quartz bits.
**
A little later, we’re going to eat lunch at the cafe in the community center (which might also be our house, or next to our house). We’ve gone to taste the Bhaktar (not a waking-life word or recipe), which is a cracker-like bread crumbled into a bowl with a creamy soup poured over top. On the way in, we pass a student of mine who is taking people’s orders. She looks at me and says, “Have you ever seen James Kinder’s wife? She reminds me so much of you!” I google them, and it turns out that she is the creative director of the plays and events at the community center.

After lunch, we watch some of the dancers preparing a performance at the community center. I don’t think James Kinder’s wife looks or acts anything like me. She reminds me a bit of Amanda Palmer, someone with a lot of creative energy and vision, which I really admire, but super vampy/campy in her own aspect, which makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I wonder if people perceive me as vampy and insincere. Not that she is insincere, really. I just can’t get past the vampy-style mask to make a human connection. I wonder if people think of me as wearing too much of a mask to really get to know me.

The dance performance they’re preparing is amazing. Back stage (or maybe on stage), I make friends with the Kinders’ sweet black cat.
**
A little later, my whole family is gathered at our house. Everyone seems to have something they really want to do right there at the house, but I want to explore the town. Finally, I get up the nerve to tell everyone that I would like to go window shopping. They sort of chuckle, but they don’t make fun of me for wanting to shop. I say it’s because I want to get the steps on my step-counter.
**
Just as I am waking up, I find myself fascinated with how my legs and arms move as I am walking up the hill, and I realize that I am actually in someone else’s body. I’m not sure if anyone else notices. I enjoy the odd experience of being in a different body. Her limbs are long and thin and very dark brown. I’ve tripped and scratched her knee, but I don’t feel the hurt.
**
A small ginger cat in the waking world is licking my cheek, and someone is meowing in the hall to say that no one filled the cat food bowl before we went to bed, so the dream ended and the day began.


Gratitude List:
1. Sincerity and honesty. People who can interact without too much of the mask.
2. While I am tired of the recent days of constant waking in the night, the waking brings the memories of dreams, and dreams are fascinating, and they offer me clues to my deeper self.
3. New strategies for handling the workload. There’s always hope that another way to organize will help me keep up with things better this time.
4. Reading books to a small person. I’m going to string this out as long as he can take it. He still demands that we read every night.
5. The interplay between language and ideas. In AP Comp, we watched a TED talk by Lera Boroditsky on how language shapes thought, and I am finding that the video itself is giving me new language for thinking about how vocabulary actually directs the shape of abstract ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

Advent 19: The Value of Being Seen

by Gustave Doré

At the public school where my ten-year-old son is in fifth grade, the principal has taught the students the South African greeting, “Sawabona,” which translates to, “I see you.”

They respond, “Sawabona sikhona.”

“Because you see me, I am here.”

I have a friend who simply tells me that in English, usually when we’ve had a deep and meaningful conversation. “I See You.”

I feel Seen.

Just yesterday, I had a moment of feeling Seen. While much of my demeanor is heart-on-my-sleeve, I have my masks, the little disguises I wear to cover and protect parts of myself that don’t feel safe to reveal in certain settings. It was a little thing, really, but it opened up a tiny nest of calm in a place where belonging can sometimes feel a little tenuous.

It was only a book recommendation, offered in a quiet moment. But it felt like a gift, a way of saying, “I See You.” Not a tearing off of my mask, but a nod to the truth beneath it.

My masks are part of the shadows that I am exploring in these days of walking into darkness. Every shadow that I cling to has its purpose, its protection, and some I must release into the light when light returns, but others protect vulnerable and tender selves, make it possible for parts of me to move and flow in social circles. I’ll shine my little light on these protective shadow-masks here in the labyrinth, but keep them in place, and be glad of the people who know even these little parts of who I am.

Some of our masks keep us from being seen, being known. The protection becomes solid armor and the shadow takes on tangibility, beyond their need to protect, instead keeping people away, keeping people from knowing who we are. I have students who are wrapped up in their protective shadows with such care that they appear almost invisible.

The gentle work of tending to these quiet souls needs not a harsh and blinding light, but the golden glow of the little candles we’ve been nursing in this walk through the labyrinth. Let’s be a safe and nurturing circle, where we can look someone in the eyes and say with words or glance: “I See You.”


Gratitude List:
1. Being Seen
2. Something is lifting. Today, I feel the little animal of my spirit is lifting its nose and sensing the coming Sunreturn. Instead of two more days of walking into darkness, I feel two more days until Sunreturn, and that feels like a big inner shift for me.
3. Foxes. Yesterday I read the page on foxes to my students from my advent book, All Creation Waits. (If you are reading it too, I am a few days ahead, because I want to read them the Christmas reading on Friday.) And this morning, I was sifting through a deck of inspirational cards I keep near me, and today’s character, synchronously, is the fox. All the senses tuned. Ears cocked. The mystery of inner knowing.
4. Chocolate. Yesterday, I sort-of-but-maybe-not-quite accidentally listened to the hearing on the radio. After only a little while, I was in desperate need of chocolate, and my beloved obliged.
5. Anticipation

May we walk in Beauty!