I listened to a profound conversation between Janine Benyus and Azita Ardakani earlier this month, full of depth and connection and the wisdom of nature. One exchange in particular stood out: nature turns towards the weakness, turns towards the pain.
When our skin is cut, dozens of intricate processes rush into action. Platelets form a clot to stop the bleeding; cytokines call out to neutrophils and macrophages, T-cells send more specialized help, B-cells produce antibodies specific to the infection at hand. They are fighting against infection, yes. But it’s more than that, better than that. They are fighting FOR health, for thriving, for life.
Everything turns towards the weakness, all hands on deck to begin the healing process from the inside out. A bandage on the outside does no good when the infection is inside.
Dear ones, we have been closed away from the world for weeks, for months, for lifetimes, no matter how many MB of connecting data we’ve consumed. We have had a chance to witness the very best in humanity, and the very worst. There is a lot of weakness. There is a lot of healing to be done.
In our pain, it might be tempting to cocoon even further inward, or to turn away. But that’s not how nature works. Nature turns towards the weakness. Nature directs all resources towards healing.
Friends, we are infected by viruses both literal and conceptual. A simple bandage will not do. Let’s muster all of our resources. Let’s rush to our own defense.
From the inside out.
One of my favorite signs of spring is the return of the honeybees. To hear the familiar hum, to see the bright spots of pollen gathered on their legs, to know that the science-miracle of pollination is happening all over the place – there is no better celebration of warmth and life.
This year, my honeybees did not return.
This happens regularly, hives dying out over the winter, but knowing that it’s regular does not make it easy. Determined to recover, I found a local raiser-of-bees and we settled on a pickup date this weekend. Zipping down the Mass Pike, hives safely secured in the back, I felt a tiny bit of triumph.
Then I saw one little bee bouncing against the back window. Then two. Then four. By the time I arrived home, a couple dozen were buzzing free, and when I saw a cluster of a thousand bees or so gathered outside the box, my heart sank. As you might guess, once bees are out of the hive, especially on a sunny spring day, it’s pretty hard to get them back in.
In the end, it all worked out, but not at all as originally expected.
Dear ones, sometimes our plans go awry. And sometimes the backup plan does not go so well either. There are many times when we need a backup to the backup to the backup… at which point it’s not a plan at all, it’s just adapting and improvising and maybe a tiny dash of panic.
In this upside-down time, when all of our beautiful plans might seem to be swarms flying loose in the car, let’s welcome the buzzing as best we can, with patience and creativity and care.
If we are lucky, eventually, the honey will follow.
P.S. We’ve been working on a little book-project…. more news to come next week!
Earlier this week, a crazy storm came out of nowhere. The sky turned a bruised purple-black and the wind went from breezy to violent, whipping the trees and blowing huge gusts of rain sideways.
Just as the thunder peaked, the lights dipped once, twice, and then all was dark.
Dark and quiet. No refrigerator humming, no air whooshing through the vents, no soft radio in the background, no clicking of my fingers on a keyboard.
As the storm moved on, I could hear each drip of the water off the roof, and the return of the bird calls. An alarming scratchy sound turned out to be me, my jeans catching on the edge of the bench.
Dear ones, even in these strange quiet homebound weeks, even for the luckiest among us, there has been a loud undercurrent buzzing. Did I answer that email how are my parents will the wifi hold up for my meeting can I avoid the grocery store where is my mask how do I clean this thing anyway is my throat sore or do I just need some water how can they still be out of paper towels is it really snowing in May should I post it on insta or just curl up into a ball until it all goes away?
In the stillness, powerless, in between the storm and the recovery, the buzzing finally stopped.
In the stillness, I lit a candle.
Took a deep breath.
A photo popped up on my screen this week of a beautiful ocean view, from a family trip to Hawaii a few years ago. We went kayaking and snorkeling on New Year’s Day, a glorious way to start the year.
Except. I am really not comfortable in the water, especially water that does not have walls around it. I like to have my feet on the floor, or my hand on a wall. Sometimes both.
I‘ve read books. I’ve had coaching and classes. I’ve used fancy water shoes and snorkel masks. Bit by bit, things have gotten better.
Here is what I’ve learned from many years of trying to conquer my fears. The tools and book help, a little. Actual people help way more. Practice is essential. And maybe most important, ”conquer” is an unhelpful verb.
Brute force got me the first few steps. In a chlorinated pool, with whistles and shouted instructions all around, I managed the very basic essentials of not drowning.
But what got me to let go of the edge was not conquering – it was curiosity. Seeing the flash of a sea turtle, I wanted so badly to follow it. I wanted to see where it was going, who else was down there. Gradually that turtle helped me to see other possibilities, other worlds, and to experience the possibility of feeling floaty and untethered and still safe.
Friends, we are so good at fear, rooted to the floors and holding tight to the walls.
And we are so good at conquering, with plans and data and language of war.
Those supports and weapons serve us well, and keep us safe. But they are not meant to apply to all of life.
Dear ones, in this time of when masking and cleaning and distancing is smart and needed and quickly becoming a default way of life, we need to most urgently ask,
Where is the turtle?
Where can my curiosity take me? Where can I let go? Where can I float free?
Who knows what we might discover when we do.
Photo from Wikimedia commons.
I’ve been playing a lot of word games lately, and weirdly related pairs keep popping into my head. Sometimes it’s sing-songy fun, like foxes and fixes, or bird and bard. Sometimes there is a little more oomph.
Taking and tending. Minding and mending.
Dear ones, in this curious time, our hearts and minds are trying to help us through. If a friend comes to us with a never-heard story, let’s listen. If we see a new plant in the woods, let’s look. If a new feeling is stirred up, let’s feel.
And if a word game gives us “mending,” let’s ask,
Where is the tear?
What can I mend?