Most of us are entering week three (more or less) of our period of isolation. We are staying at home. We are trying to keep in touch with friends and relatives. We are attempting new methods of working, or adjusting to unemployment. We are looking for ways to keep children’s education progressing, or at least keep them entertained and occupied. We are thinking about food and food supplies way more than usual, and are baking – probably too much! Our lives are in disarray.
This past weekend I noticed a couple of things. Many people are unsteady. One day is good, one day is not. Maybe it’s even hour by hour shifts that are catching us by surprise. Waves of uncertainty and then waves of feeling we can do this and it’s really not so bad. This unsteadiness is unnerving. I also noticed that we are all coming to terms with the reality of what is going on. The potential length of this, and the process of accepting that things we were really looking forward to just will not happen, and there is nothing we can do to change this. We are not in control.
Despite all of this, there is a lot of strength out there. A lot of strength within. The examples of this strength are everywhere. People delivering groceries; people sharing pictures of travels we can’t currently enjoy; people sharing art and music; people going for walks as families; people finding ways to work together from afar; people playing games and having parties together online; people worshipping together from their homes through various means; phone calls, emails, texts galore. We are staying connected. It is actually quite incredible.
We are leaning on each other, and we are sharing our strength.
This old Scottish folksong (O Waly, Waly) popped into my mind as I was thinking about our collective strength. This popular song has many text variations, but the version I thought of was, The Water is Wide. I could only remember the first verse – a nice bit about building a boat for two and it would carry us together. Of course, as I read more, I realized this story doesn’t end well, so I moved onto a version often sung in churches using a paraphrase of the ‘love’ chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.
Though I may speak with bravest fire,
and have the gift to all inspire,
and have not love;
my words are vain;
as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.
Though I may give all I possess,
and striving so my love profess,
but not be giv’n
by love within,
the profit soon turns strangely thin.
Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love
guide every deed;
by this we worship, and are freed.
These are powerful words regardless of your own personal beliefs. Strength grounded in love is an incredible force. It makes us whole. It inspires. It protects us from our own greed. It provides freedom. It allows us to carry others when they struggle to find their own strength; it allows us to accept from others when our reserves are empty. We need not question a love filled giver’s motivations. We need not be suspicious of generosity, nor feel guilt if our own cupboards are bare. There are no conditions. We may give and receive freely, and allow our spirits to be replenished by this flow of strength.
This is where we are. This is where we will be for some time. It is not a time for hopeless gain. It is a time to give, to share, to carry and to accept. So, perhaps we are, in fact, building boats. All sorts of boats. We will sail together across this turbulent river. And, we will celebrate on the other side.