There is logging happening in the woods behind our house. A few months ago, we had seen flagging back there. An abutting landowner had commissioned a survey of the land. Since our deed reads something like, “walk 40 paces north, turn 35 degrees at the big maple and walk 70 more paces to the separation in the stone wall…” the flagging seemed appropriate. We didn’t know why the landowner needed to know where the edges were but we found it interesting to see them delineated.
We have always appreciated that “our” undisturbed patch of forest spills into other unknown people’s undisturbed patches of forest. The lack of boundary markers between “ours” and “theirs” makes it even more clear that the forest belongs to itself. More specifically the inhabitants of the forest belong to themselves and one another and, in their interrelationship, an even more whole and complete life force is evident. This is the universal spirit expressed in all life and in the creative energy that passes between and among all.
Knowing the bright and vibrant life force of this forest makes the hum of the logging equipment deeply disturbing. The menacing sounds of zipping saws and crunching equipment rub roughly against the fragile peace and security that I harbor in my heart these days. It is so loud and so close that I can hear it even from inside my house. Even worse, I can hear the sounds of destruction, but I cannot see them. I know that lives of the trees are ending and the lives of the forest critters are being forever altered. I also know the reality of woodlot management. We have thinned our forest for firewood and to help support the development of a healthier ecosystem too. There is nothing for me to do to change this situation. It is complicated, messy and beyond my control. I can, however, be with it.
I can notice the violence of rapid change. I can notice my distress. I can notice the tightness in my chest when the machines start up each morning and the relief when they stop in the afternoon.
I am especially aware of how my responses to the logging feel amplified by the Covid-19 landscape. Daily, I am overwhelmed by the reality of our existence and by my own urge to be of use, to do something (anything!) to alleviate the suffering that is multiplying and amplifying daily. Alas, there is very little for me to do. I can ensure that my family feels safe and loved. I can reach out to offer a listening ear to friends. I can offer support to the organizations who are creatively meeting basic community needs. But none of that is really about doing. It is about being. I cannot open my arms to hug the loved ones or strangers who are ill, scared, lonely, anxious or grieving. I can, however, open my heart to them. I can open my heart to be with others in the concerns, loss and uncertainty of what will come next. I can be with my own distress in a way that is open, accepting, and curious.
I have to remind myself that being is enough.
When the machines and the virus have gone, and it is safe to offer the world an embrace, I will step into the new landscape with new appreciation. I know I will feel eager to do something to contribute to healing and recovery. I will need to remind myself again (and you can remind me if I forget) to simply be with the creation too. There are lessons of letting go, letting be and faith for me here.
Perhaps there are lessons here for you too?