Sunday, March 15, 2020

Pandemic

The streets of this teeming city have emptied. The photo was taken in Times Square yesterday. To see what this same scene usually looks like, even late into the night, compare with the second photo in this post, which I took at close to midnight one summer evening.

One of my friends sent this poem to a circle of us women who regularly gather. Or at least we used to. Who knows when next we will see each other in this quarantined city. My friend said the poem was sent to her by her 81-year-old yoga teacher. I'm sharing it here because it feels so deeply like a message we all need to hear.

PANDEMIC
by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world you love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

3/11/20

16 comments:

  1. that poem is exactly right, thank you.

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  2. That poem is perfect thank you. xoxo

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  3. I was going to say that it's perfect and Rebecca already did but I'll say it too. I have been having these same thoughts which this lady so eloquently and absolutely said.

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  4. This poem is so deep, I had read it earlier. It was written by Lynn Ungar, minister, dog trainer and poet, according an article I read.

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    1. Terra, so interesting! I looked it up based on your comment and saw the same attribution, and a creation date 3 days earlier. Hmm. Perhaps I misunderstood my friend about who wrote the poem. I will correct the attribution. Thank you.

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  5. Sacred time. So true. Thank you for sharing this. I've finished reading Linda Sarsour's memoir, an emotional experience, bringing tears of recognition over and over again in the many instances throughout the book that show how connected we all are and how we can do together what we could not do alone. Linda Sarsour's story of her strong family foundation, of being mentored by Basemah Atweh, and taking on community responsibilities as a young woman affirms my experience that diverse people can work together for the good of all people when motivated by love rather than fear. She made a wise decision in choosing you to listen and to write down her story. Powerful work is done behind the scenes. All of us do something well. We are called to do that work. No action too small.

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    1. Dear am, thank you so much for reading her book, and really getting it. I’m so moved by what you’ve said here. Yes, we each do our part. Love and hugs to you.

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  6. It's a lovely poem, a sacred time for us to help one another.

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  7. What a wonderful,gift to your readers and the world during this time. Thanks for sharing it here.

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  8. yes. we have been instructed by our daughter to stay home for the next month and no yoga classes she told me. well, already stay home all the time but I did get more food in the house. and I am going to yoga tonight. it's a small class and there is plenty of room to spread out. and there are no known cases here so far. I'll take it a day at a time.

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  9. We truly are all in this together. That's something some people don't seem to realize, among them my mother (age 90) who refuses to stop going out daily for her social contact, as well as many folks who still insist on going out to eat and drink. But then I'm a boy scout kind of person - always be prepared and even over-prepared, and follow the rules :)

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  10. This is driving me crazy, wondering what I should have in abundance. We went to Costco this morning because I wanted to order contact lenses. My eyes are such that I need the layer of plastic to hold down the pain. The line to get in was a quarter of a mile. So we left, called the other Costco and got them ordered. Went to Safeway, forgot the sweet potatoes. I guess there will be no sweets for two weeks. It's good that the open desert is across the street from us, if I had to stay indoors for two weeks it would be bad. I never expected this would happen.

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  11. Here in the Uk we've been advised to self isolate for months. I worry about people's mental health.

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  12. It is a profound poem, and many would do well to embrace its ideas. I believe we can choose to get through this with an abundance of grace if we open our hearts and minds. My yoga class has been canceled, and there are only nine of us plus the teacher! Still, a lot of older people and so we are being cautious. I talk to my neighbors when I walk my dog - they, just on their porch and me in the street. Another neighbor has given us all notices that she is very happy to assist in errands if need be. This is an opportunity for our light to shine. Thank you for sharing this poem.

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