As many of you have no doubt heard, Santa Clara County Health Department has extended the Shelter-in-Place through Sunday, May 3. This action was taken to minimize the spread of COVID-19, serious illness, and the very real potential for significant loss of life.
This week my prayers have not only been for each of you, but also for first responders, and grocery store clerks, nurses and doctors, unemployed families, children next-door drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, and the PG&E guy (Mike) who came out to our home late one evening to make an emergency call.
All of us experience Shelter-in-Place differently. For most of us, it means a place we call home. For the unhoused, it may mean a place they hope to eat a meal and rest their head for a night in a large room full of strangers. I pray for them, too.
This morning, I sat in my backyard and watched a family of grey squirrels (or maybe they were friends, or maybe they were strangers who became friends) play in the large tree in the northwest corner by our wooden fence. I could have just as easily watched them through the window, but I wanted to be outside. These days, I look for any excuse to be outside. And those squirrels were as good of an excuse as any. So, I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat under the broad roof sky, and read the following poem by David Whyte:
At home amidst
in the summer
a broad roof
for the house
where I wish
in the eternity
of my own fleeting
I walk toward
door as if walking
door of a recognized
and see the
of shelves and
the blue dishes
from the kettle
that called me in.
Not just this
from which to drink
but the flavour
of a life made whole
seeking its way.
Not just this
house around me
but the arms
of a fierce
but healing world.
Not just this line
but the innocence
of an earned
made new with
And a man
with no company
but his house,
and his own
well peopled solitude,
of the heart
to start again.
On Ash Wednesday, February 26, few of us knew what pandemic
wilderness we would be entering during Lent. I certainly did not. On the
first Sunday of the liturgical season, we heard the language of
temptation, wilderness, solitude, and angels; but few (if any of us)
associated those words with COVID-19, cancelled, lockdown, and
Shelter-in-Place. For much of Lent, we have had to learn to be at home
with bees wandering our gardens; notice the simplicity of steam rising
from our kettles; contemplate a world that offers as much healing as it
does heartbreak; welcome no company, only the gift of well peopled
solitude; and enter, for the first time in perhaps a very long time, the
silences and chambers of our hearts to start again.
I pray these and other small graces are sustaining you while dark
clouds gather on the horizon of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ. I
pray you remember beyond this pandemic wilderness, beyond Good
Friday clouds looming in the distance, there is a frontier with clearer
skies, brighter fields, and sweeter waters where our hearts might be
baptized anew in the name of faith, hope, and love. The greatest of
May the Lord bless you and keep you.