“… the lead bird isn’t an alpha bird, he explained, it’s just the one that assumes temporary wind duty, and when it gets tired, it flies to the back of the pack, where it may straggle while regaining strength. “If you’re the guy in front, you can only stay there so long,” he said. “Recovery may take awhile.” In the meantime, a new bird moves in.
“The Goose that flies at the back of the pack is just getting some rest” by Mary Schmich
So many of you either have already, or are now experiencing the fallout of Covid-19. I am a seventy-five year old with a compromised immune system, recovering from flu and sitting in the epicenter of the outbreak north of Seattle WA,USA. I think of you all much more lately, believe me! Your courage and faithfulness to spiritual practice sustains me and lifts me up.
I have developed the practices below as a way to remain at peace and to balance the lack of control with the power of spiritual action. My list of people and places to protect grows with each day. These are the people and places I hold in light:
Thank you for whispering a quick blanket protection for us.
My sister and her husband My nieces and nephews My sister-in-law and everyone at her memory care center, including the families My spiritual director and soul sister My church campus, staff, our neighbors there without a roof over them Members of my geographical house church Life Care Center in Kirkland where nine have died and others are infected The hospital where my friend works and my friend and herself The 50+ Apartment building where I reside Myself My friends
Protection Ritual For This Time Of Epidemic
Ground yourself using whatever ways help you. Begin when you are ready:
Spirit of divine, cauterizing light,
Surround this place (name) and/or person (name) with your brilliant, healing light. Above, below, behind, in front, around and around.
(Imagine the swirling light banking and building heat and sending it throughout this person and/or place. Imagine that this spirit light is brooding in the center of this place/person)
Spirit Light, brood within them. Generate healing light and warmth. May they be free of all dis-ease. May they be free from harm. May they be happy and peaceful. May they be strong and healthy. May they take care of themselves with joy.
May it be so. Amen.
Protection Ritual For Yourself If You Are Sick
Susanne has recommended the Insight Timer free meditation app on Google play. My favorite music is “Delta Waves and Oceanic Sounds.” I like it because I can sync my breathing with the ebb and flow of the waves and because it is unobtrusive.
Inhaling, I breathe in healing energy. Exhaling I send it to every place in my body that needs healing (to my mind as well, in an effort to dispel fear and anxiety). Inhaling I gather up all sick energy from my body. Exhaling I send it down to the earth where it can be renewed.
Last week I had total hip replacement. One way I prepared for it was by imagining myself in three months walking upright, sans pain, sans cane. Walking not just three blocks, but three miles! It was an effective incentive that served me well. Still serves me well.
I find that now it serves me better to live authentically in this liminal time of recovery. As seers say, live in the now. I am trying to be faithful to a grounding meditation in which I release unwanted ego energy (“I should increase my walk today”) into the earth, and draw healing energy from the earth into my hip and leg and whole body. Without that ego clamor I am then able to hear my body tell me what it can and can’t do. This liminal time between disability and ability has become sacred to me. I can only imagine what other lessons will present themselves in the weeks ahead.
Please leave us a note about practices you have for dealing with the in-between times of your life.
I settled into my meditation on the dock this morning, luxuriating in black bird twitters and the flash of red wings. The sun on my back thawed my winterized bones. Ahh, how good to be alone with the divine… until the holy muse quietly morphed into a magnificent Great Blue Heron holding vigil in the water lilies. Her faithful practice spoke to me,”Stand still. Watch and wait. Your authentic self will catch up with you.”
Diminishment Held my eyes in the mirror this morning As she spoke her stark truth. My body has declined. There is no bringing it back. Now Is the time of adaptation.
Yesterday, walking the Interurban Trail, Bikers shouted “Seventy is the new 60. You can do it!” Dropping me in a whir of wheels and wind As they passed. My mind wanders to the memory of another bike ride- The rush of river rapids A whiff of mock orange transporting me To someplace beyond myself, Hair awry in the wind and thirty-year-old muscles Giddy With endurance As they close in on mile thirty. Grief and gratitude ride the memory with me Calling me back to the visitor In the mirror.
Today I live in that place beyond myself With seventy two-year-old muscles Wrapped around arthritic bones, And the heavenly scent Of mock orange to keep me company.
This poem emerges from a recent conversation with my dear friend Linda in which we commiserated and celebrated our entrance into the stage of The Velveteen Rabbit, scars and bald spots our glorious trophies. Especially the inside ones. Enjoy.
Old people like old barns Lure light through weathered Planks in sagging frames. It spills in speckled streaks Onto the foundations of their souls Where young visitors can sprawl And play at life.
I have lived here at my 55+ apartment building for three years now. During this time I have been honored to develop a relationship of sorts with Maxine, who is almost ninety years old. A lifetime dancer, Maxine stands at least 5’8”. She carries one trekking pole as a balance aid (I am trying to introduce her to the benefits of two trekking poles!) and her mod clothes always complement her vivid orange hair. For years Maxine has taught line dancing at the local senior center; now she sits on the sidelines dictating instructions to one of her seven children who in turn demonstrates the steps to the class. Once I met her by the elevator and she was excited to tell me she had just gotten “such a deal on potatoes at Costco,” and would I like some? She invited me in and shared five stout bakers with me. We take care of each other at the Blakely. Another time Maxine rode the elevator with me and announced, “You seem like a really nice girl. Would you come for coffee at my apartment?” It was a delightful hour of storytelling evoked by each antique that graced her living room. My most poignant conversation with Maxine occurred the time I came upon her unexpectedly. A look of terror passed over her countenance. She apologized, saying that once she had been assaulted and since then surprise is an unwelcome experience. Today was different. I rode the elevator with Maxine and her oldest daughter, who must be at least seventy-five. Maxine seemed to function well on the surface, but I noticed much more disorientation than I have ever seen before. Her daughter’s demeanor hinted at the beginning of exasperation, and perhaps fear of what lies immediately around the corner. It scares me too. What is it like entering this stage of aging? What can we do to live in it with grace? I am only seventy, yet I have momentary glimpses of it. I like to tell myself these moments of disorientation stem from a physical condition, and they do. But… Living here reinforces what I have longed believed, that we grow old as we have lived all along. I think the way to do this is to live life as the mystics set it before us: let go, let be, live from our deepest being. I am working on letting go of the need to rant about the things that irritate me in a 55+ community. Ranting just gives the negative power over me, and instead of living life, I live the rant. Not pleasant for me or for those around me. The facility of animals to adapt to their environments inspires me. Someday I too will be disoriented; right now I learn how to take care of myself and simultaneously respect the place others are in. In this moment I type on a computer in the communal “office.” It is air-conditioned. My apartment is 90 degrees. It’s working out just fine, too! I may have met some “Chatty Kathys or Keiths” here, but not this time. I’m learning to imagine ahead of time what the effects of my choices might be, so that surprise doesn’t sabbotage me. This leads to more instances of letting be and the possibility of living from my deepest self. I’m far from sainthood. I almost strangled my cat at 3:00 A.M. this morning when she decided it was play time. However, I think I’ve come up with a template for the spiritual practice of growing old. Good luck to you if you share my era, good luck to you if you have to deal with my era!