It was still pitch black when my dreams about ‘Waiting’ woke me up. In my dream, I was waiting for my partner to change something about himself as he waited for me to do the same. We were waiting for each other to do something we hoped the other would do. We were waiting for the Pandemic to be over. Waiting for the effects of Covid19 on my brain to go away. Waiting for other people to make decisions about things. We were waiting for Life, life outside of us, to miraculously be different. Dr. Seuss’s image of “The Waiting Place” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! filtered into my waking mind. The rhythm of Seuss’s rhymes repeated in my head… “Waiting for their Uncle Jake… waiting for a cake to bake… waiting for their hair to grow… waiting around for a yes or no… everyone is just waiting.”
As I let the dream of ‘Waiting’ take precedence over the sleepy darkness, I pulled myself out of bed into consciousness. My teacher’s words from the other day flashed their neon sign at me: “Covid Demands Respect”. This clear image of Covid standing there with arms folded across it’s prickly chest looking at all the people waiting with disdain, waiting for the world to respect it, like a teacher waiting for a class to quiet down after recess came to mind. It looks down its stubborn and steadfast nose at us, knowing full well that some are sitting in neat rows quietly behaving with masks on and clean, sanitized hands folded neatly on top of the desk, while others are blowing spit wads in the back row as if the teacher hadn’t even entered the room. Covid will not start the class until the spit ballers in the back wake up. It will patiently wait. The wily, infectious teacher has no urgency to go anywhere. It’s here to teach after all, and when we figure that out, the lessons will come clear and Covid will begin its teaching in earnest.
So, what are you waiting for? What are we waiting for? Where are you in the scene? Are you the well behaved student in the front row with eyes forward waiting too quietly for the bad kids in the back row to quiet down? Are you somewhere in the middle? Wearing your too dirty mask pretending to comply while exiting your bubble a little too often? Or are you the person in South Dakota still denying it exists, even while they intubate you? Are you the kid in South Korea or New Zealand who already graduated and is moving onto other things? Maybe you’re the principal ready to discipline those who don’t respect the teacher? Or the weary parent who just wishes this would all go away, not sure what any of it has to do with you? Whoever and wherever you are in the scene, Covid19 still demands your respect.
WHY? Why does this teacher demand so much respect? What’s it here to teach us? What are we supposed to be learning? I suspect there are as many answers to that question as there are people on this spinning planet. Here are a few places I’ve been looking: We are one planet, one people. We treat the planet like someone else will take care of it. We keep waiting for someone else to do the right thing, just as I did in my dream. We want everyone else to change, yet refuse to do what we know we must. We too often don’t do our best. We don’t tend to our hearts, or make room for our grief, and our immune systems suffer as a result. We think we’re special, different, above others – immune. We put each other in boxes and decide who that person is and lose our curiosity. We judge ruthlessly. We think we’re above the rules and that everyone is out to oppress us, take away our freedoms, destroy our democracy, etc. We put each other in two columns – one marked GOOD and one marked BAD and we fail to see who we truly are. We don’t nourish our bodies, nourish our minds, or nourish our spirits. We certainly don’t nourish our planet. We make ourselves more important than other, but we do it falsely with blame, guilt and shame as our companions. We’ve lost our connection to God/Spirit/Source. We work and live in unsustainable ways. Our selfishness and separateness is destroying our relationships, our communities, our planet, and making room for this Coronavirus to creep in that second story window and ransack our lives.
That’s just a few things….
On a lighter note, Covid begs us to respect each other’s space, to tidy up our world starting with the simple and sacred act of cleansing our hands well. These hands which brush our teeth, feed our families, provide comfort, express emotion, wave hello and goodbye, take out the trash, bring cookies to our neighbor, turn the key, seal the ballot, bathe the infant, wrench on the car, hold the paintbrush, pull the trigger, fold in prayer, hold the phone endlessly, and push the button on the elevator. We begin by simply acknowledging the makers that we are by washing and washing these precious hands and waking up to all we touch.
Beyond that, Covid asks us to slow down and reassess how we live, what we eat, how we work, how we educate, how we love one another, the rules and laws we’ve created, how we shop, how we travel, justice and injustice in our world, how we spend, what we believe, where we are privileged and where we are not, who we listen to, who leads us, where we spend our energy, and how we tend ourselves.
When I was young, my family was on a road trip and my mom was driving the car. It was early morning. My brothers were sleeping in the back and my mom and I were in the front. Suddenly, off in the distance, a car in front of us began to swerve. I remember how everything switched to slow motion. He swerved to the left, then the right, then the car rolled over a time or two. The car landed up right at the edge of the road. As we pulled up, the driver was standing in the road in shock. He looked at his hands as if he’d just dropped into this body. His mouth was agape and his face in awe. He looked at his whole body, ever so slowly with eyes of wonder. He was Alive! Unscathed. Somehow, he had been ejected from the car and landed on his feet. Completely unharmed. His car sat there totaled like a drunkard passed out after a too wild evening. The driver, not only completely sober, but now fully AWAKE to all that Life is and can be, stood transformed in the middle of the 4 lane highway. We had a front row seat to an awakening. In turn, we awakened.
Perhaps Covid is waiting till we get thrown from the vehicle of our Life, stand in Awe of the miracle it is that any of us get through a single day, notice how often the hand of something Divine lifts us from our vehicle and places us safely on the road, and learn to live in appreciation of all we have, all we are, and all that can be. When we stand there, looking at our hands as if we’ve just dropped into these precious bodies, knowing that we have the ability to create our world to be a more loving sustainable place, and yet realize we have little control over anything… perhaps then, we’ll wash these hands well and use them to secure our masks, eyes front in respect of the teacher, ready to dive in to all it has to teach us. No longer waiting for anyone but ourselves. Perhaps then, teacher will give a nod of respect back and exit the classroom. Perhaps. We shall see.