I read a poem recently and it got me thinking about this surreal time we’re living in. Like so many at this strange time of panic buying, working from home, and social distancing, as I began to settle into a new routine, (after I was reassured I had enough toilet rolls), I started to notice things.
I noticed that I worry about filling my time with something productive as much as possible. There’s a good work ethic there, of course, but it got me thinking about 2 things: might I be missing something important if I’m so focussed on being productive, and where does that anxiety really come from?
I can give you an example. As I sit here in my living room, I can see out onto our garden. Normally my attention goes straight to what I need to get done - cut the grass, make a wood store (I’ve never done that before), or fix the chainsaw (the chain came off after my first go at using it!). But today I began to notice other things, which I would normally miss. There, on the tree that’s been there forever, is a bit of bark missing. And I began to become curious - how did that happen? And my imagination was fired up - it’s in the shape of a door - did a bird carve it out for their newly made nest? Then I got into a flow of noticing - there are so many birds busy in the garden, energetically flying from branch to branch, and landing to search for some grub. And I found that I’ve now past criticising how much effort they put into finding food without much to show for it, to simply admire them. And I focus on one, which has landed on the birdbath. I no longer need to prove to myself that I know its name, but instead observe how expertly it hops from one part of the bath to another and admire the superb flow of its shape making it an excellent flier. And I even begin to attribute to it values that I am envious of, particularly as it seems so unencumbered by a need to be productive. Or maybe I’m jealous of its freedom to poop wherever it wants to without scrambling for toilet paper that might be running out! I may have gone a little too far there, but you get the point.
The final stage of this wee reverie is to come to awe. But it’s a journey to get here, through fear, letting go, and probably a bit of humbling too. But in that sweet, awesome moment I sense a connection – first to the tree and the birds, and then to the garden, then the farm we are situated in, then the surrounding fields, the countryside, and so on, into the bigger picture.
To really know that I am connected to something bigger – the Earth, Nature, the Universe, Divinity, or whatever you want to call it, is so awesome it’s daunting, and I often shrink back from believing it. Perhaps I don’t want to let go of being in control or to think of myself as connected to something bigger makes me too small for my comfort.
But I wonder if this strange time offers and opportunity, or even a gift, to see past the anxiety to be productive, to accept where that anxiety comes from, and let go of wanting to be in control. I wonder if I will become a little closer to believing it to be true, that I am held no matter what I do or don’t do.
I am reminded of a prayer, a declaration of faith, that goes something like -
I am held
I am held whole
I am held whole by you (Earth, Nature, the Universe, Divinity)
I am held whole by you (Earth, Nature, the Universe, Divinity) forever
I am held whole by you (Earth, Nature, the Universe, Divinity) forever, safe and sound.