Sheltering, in Place

In my cozy home in Sonoma County, California, I’m never alone. I have my neighbors, who are wonderful, and my dog, Rowan. From my windows, I watch the hummingbirds whiz possessively. 

Surrounding us, I can feel the plants and trees all around. The lavender and rosemary bring their medeterranian medicine; the Douglas fir shades us with its mystery; and the majestic redwood releases a calming aerosol into the air. We’re not alone here, ever. 

Being rooted in this place helps in times of trouble. But these last few years in Sonoma County have tested my connection to this place, to myself, and to my equanimity. One calamity after the next—floods, fires, power outages, and now this pandemic and financial implications—have made this place and my life here feel less safe, and I have to grapple with that. It doesn’t seem like things are going to get easier any time soon. 

After so many days of mostly being here, watching the pandemic unfold across the world, things have begun to feel surreal. I’m aware of so much suffering, people dying, hospital camps being set up, policies being set, people arguing, people losing jobs and livelihoods. I’m so lucky that I have the luxury here to watch it, and not BE in it. Yet. Who knows what direction this will take us. What will happen tomorrow. It’s so strange: being comfortable, safe, well fed, and healthy, while also experiencing the extreme anxiety and uncertainty that the world holds right now that comes into this house and my mind via the Internet and phone.

I hold tight. To my family, miles away. To my friends and co-workers, doing creative, amazing, and brave things. To my work. To my contemplative practices. To the brave souls doing the policymaking and on the front lines at hospitals. My heart goes to those who are sick or dying, and to those who will be. Will it be me? Those I love?

Nettle. Douglas fir. Lavender. Lemon balm. Redwood. 

Holding tight. Sheltering in this place.


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