Recently, a friend of mine wrote some wise words. Reminding us that we are not the first, nor shall we be the last to experience pandemic disease, social unrest, violence, wars, calamities in our lifetimes.
Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective.
We have such a limited notion of time. We are quick to become impatient with minor inconveniences. We too readily forget that we are not the first people to walk through pandemics, or wars, or crises, or depressions, or a world that seems to have been put on pause. These are not unprecedented times in history. They are simply unprecedented in our short, small lifetimes.
I find myself thinking about history a great deal right now and with a somewhat new understanding and perspective. Suddenly, Anne Frank’s years spent in the attic take on weight and meaning. I have a deeper insight into the tension between boredom and anxiety. I have more sympathy for the pain and longing inside stories about men who go off to war, leaving behind women pregnant with their unborn children. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. For several years, Georgia O’Keeffe painted almost nothing. The London Blitz lasted for 57 days. People endure long illnesses that leave them bedridden for months staring hopelessly at the ceiling. When I think about parents with severely handicapped children, and what heroic efforts it takes to manage the simplest logistics of travel or daily life, I am shamed never to complain about face masks and Clorox wipes again. (Amy Greer, “A Footnote” http://tenthousandstars.net/a-footnote/)
We clasp the hands of those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other’s arms
And the larger circle of lovers,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures
Passing in and out of life
Who move also in a dance
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments. The Larger Circle – Wendell Berry
Let us clasp hands and walk forward….with all of this living community and the vast cloud of witnesses, cheering us on.