(first published May 13, 2020)
The wind is warm today and carries the scent of smoke, a sense of Africa, the feeling that maybe I am nearer the sea than I think. I am feeling distracted by all the hundreds of shades of green on the mountainside and the hundreds more out in the fields.
I am feeling unsettled by small and large disappointments. I gave up cynicism one winter when a large chunk of it chipped off and fell into pieces along with my heart. It seemed like too much to add to the work of reconstruction, so I mostly let it go. That’s not to say that my idealism always rides out proudly in front of the parade. I can see things for what they are. It just means that I’m bound to feel my failures and the failures of my fellow humans a bit more forcefully than is comfortable. Failures, mostly, to act lovingly.
I should stay away from the news, close my Facebook account; stop talking to people who tell me things that hurt to know. There is corruption in my village. No one is surprised. It’s just like this. There’s no expectation of justice or just-ness. There is impotent outrage. Elsewhere, rivers turn black again. Have we learned nothing? Everywhere, there is evil in high places. There is barbarity, greed. There is a crushing disregard for life, for the sacred. There is senselessness; hatred. Things are veiled. There is power at play.
Yes, and there is such kindness that I can barely breathe from the fullness of my heart. People give. There is healing. Stands are taken, justice demanded. Someone says “no” and means it. Collaborations are made to encircle the weak, to protect what cannot protect itself. Someone says “yes” and there is gratitude. Connections happen and nets are woven. Something comes out of hiding.
Sometimes it gets hard to hold everything that makes us human—so much dark and so much light. I take all the opposites and place them in the context of the mountainside I walk. There is medicine in the underbrush, in the moist places, in the open sunny rocky sides: what will will help you sleep lives near that will wake you up, what will nourish you near what will kill you, what stops the bleeding near what will bring it on, what cleanses near what poisons, what moistens near what dries, what heats near what cools, what hardens near what dissolves; what binds near what releases…
No one is surprised.
In our context, what is corrupt lives near what is pure, what gives near what withholds, what hides near what reveals, what crushes near what rises up, what opens near what closes down; what hurts near what will heal.
Choose your part and I’ll choose mine.
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I added this blog as a way to share some thoughts and experiences around the impact of Covid-19 on my life here in Southern Italy. These posts have been a near-daily practice during this time and are largely unedited, most having been first posted on Facebook. They are of course in order with the most recent entry on the first page. I invite you to explore previous posts or even start from the beginning.