A friend tells me that for her shelter-in-place is boring, routine.  I don’t feel that way but maybe that’s because as an introvert, I easily entertain.  I feel like every moment something is hopping up to draw my attention like squirrels and crows running through and bouncing on branches of trees. 

Yesterday I posted that I was signed up for a workshop with “homework”.  Each day I was to bring forth a place of grief and go more deeply into it.

A friend emailed me today congratulating me on the courage required to do that, and chagrined, I had to admit I’d forgotten the assignment.  

In my defense, the usual good student that I am, an exchange yesterday turned everything around.

By email I was moaning to a friend that I couldn’t touch my grandchild though I have seen him twice socially distanced, and daily we Facetime, but I wanted to touch him.

She pointed out that her grandchild was born with a rare disease, and though sometimes he could be touched often he was hooked up to tubes and monitoring devices.  The child was pure joy but only lived a few years.  

My heart fell into a crevice of grief for her and his parents, and all who loved him, and I thought to myself I have nothing to equal that.  I know it’s not about comparison, but it is about perspective.  

It’s not the same but I remember when I was going through chemo and radiation and I’d see people much worse off than I.  I’d always feel better realizing I didn’t have it so bad.

One man was brought in from nearby San Quentin prison in his orange jumpsuit. He was well-guarded and his hands and feet were chained.   My heart moistens even now with sorrow at seeing him taken out of the van and escorted into the building.

A few years ago my husband was hospitalized at Christmas.  Staff was minimal and they gave him the best room with a view.   Because it was at the end, across the hall was a man, a prisoner, from San Quentin.  He looked so pitiful and it was Christmas, and the guards were outside his door, so in and out I’d go sharing the Christmas exchange.  Everyone was so sweet, and those who were working volunteered for those days.  The nurse who cared for Steve said he didn’t have children at home, and so it gave him great pleasure to work at that time.

Finally there was a great discussion.  Since it was Christmas, could the man have a shower?  The bathroom was right there connected to his room, and so it was agreed that he could have a shower. I think of it now and tears come. We were all so happy that the chains were removed and this man got to shower by himself. What a gift for us all! Certainly a Christmas to remember.

I realize that yesterday after thinking of the loss of my friend’s grandchild, I dismissed that I had anything to grieve, and  yes, personally I’ve gone into the depths of grief for my father’s death in an accident etc. but maybe I’m meant to expand this out, to feel what it’s like for children who are starving in this country and around the world.  What is it like to leave one’s home and travel to perceived safety and security, and be separated from your children and see them and yourself locked up?

Can I enter that depth of grief?

I’d been so absorbed in my own personal “story” which is privileged and blessed that I missed the point of the “assignment”.  

It’s 10:00 in the morning.  It’s time for me to sink, and open to feel new ground, and a horizon that embraces a wider world than I usually allow myself to recognize.  

May I travel and open in Trust and Peace and return in Compassion and Joy.

The world embraced

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