Feeling heartbreak and calm
by Irit Umani, Austin, TX

The worst thing for me, emotionally, is that my best local friend entered hospice care yesterday and no visitation is allowed. Oh, how I wish to say my “goodbye, beloved,” to say once again “I love” and “Go in peace.” By the time staying away is a past order, my dear friend will very likely be gone. This breaks my heart.

Not seeing my grandkids is the other heartbreak. If it was up to me, we’d still get together every Saturday. But my son and daughter-in-law are worried about my belonging to the at-risk group, age-wise. Later today, we will Skype or Zoom. That’s good, but not as good as hugging.

I am encouraged by all the good and deeply inspiring things that are coming on line from spiritually-based organizations and people. Friday, I celebrated Shabbat, on Zoom, with people living at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico, together with about twenty past residents of this amazing community. I lived there in the late eighties and it is still my main spiritual community. The sense of belonging, the lighting of candles together in some twenty homes, saying prayers, singing, and heart-filled spoken words were all so good for my soul.

Personally, I feel very calm, no anxiety. Maybe a validation of many years of spiritual practices, maybe the result of coming from a war zone and having gone through big crises before, maybe it is just my personality, my inner makeup. In any case, it is helpful now.

I do worry about people who have no option when told to “stay home” because they have no home. I worry about where do the people who are homeless quarantine when symptomatic. I wonder where they go to heal if they are sick but not enough to be hospitalized. I worry about the staff working at and the people living in shelters where distancing is not an option.

I am deeply grateful for my plenty. I am grateful for the teaching about our inter-dependence that is now so clear and the potential of long-term changes that we may take for better. I am grateful that people in China are experiencing clear sky and the ones in Venice see clear water canals for the first time in many years. I am grateful for you.

Looking West from the Dome at Lama
by Shanta Sabersky, Seattle, WA

Slowly and slowly, the different parts of my daily life were cancelled. First, the Adult Day Program where I work was cancelled, since it was located in a retirement community. There were emails going back and forth between others serving seniors…What are you doing? Are you keeping open…closing? Then, one by one, the outreach programs were cancelled.

For awhile, we still had small meetings of two to three people, being careful to sit apart from one another. Then, meeting by Zoom. Then, working one on one. And then, working by phone. And now…hardly working.

Then, we can’t visit my mother in law in her retirement community. They are very similar to cruise ships and have to be so careful.

Then, even my place of worship. First, the programs were cancelled, but one could still visit. And then, not even that.

Following on the heels of the cancelled life, came the hoarding. Are you kidding me, there’s no toilet paper? I went into the Walgreens and the clerk recited: “No hand sanitizer, no Clorox wipes, no rubbing alcohol no aloe vera gel, no…” I couldn’t listen any more.

Okay. If you want food, you better get it today. Try here, try there. Stock up on lentils and rice.

After being hyper-alert as to what we should do and buy, then there was the let down. There is nothing left to do. We are home with our lentils and rice.

Everything has dropped off.

Who am I then? Not the organizer, the planner, the facilitator, the daughter-in-law.

I am left with me. And it is my understanding that learning who I am, learning more of the knowledge that can increase my understanding of who I am, is my life’s work. Who am I?

Is this an opportunity for me to try to increase my connection with who I am?

Let me explore the quiet.

And, when life resumes in some way, which I expect it will, let me be careful not to fill it with so many things that I lose track of what is my work.

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