“I would say that there exists a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. […] We are each other’s destiny.” – Mary Oliver, Upstream
Peace and love to you all during the Covid-19 pandemic. If there has ever been a time for introspection and the deep inner work required of us to heal the world, these past few weeks have provided it. They have also brought out some of the best of what we hope for when we live in intentional community. My housemates and I have shared many meals, activities, and laughs together. There’s even been a certain joy during the moments of many of us gathered around the kitchen table, working from home on our own tasks, but together nonetheless. I am so grateful for the relationships this program has helped create, which are exactly the kind necessary to keep strong through the uncertainty and fear.
Some posts I’ve seen on social media have been quick to remind me what all we could be doing with this time. Shakespeare, for example, wrote King Lear during an outbreak of the plague. Newton invented calculus! I, on the other hand, have contented and comforted myself with less impressive methods: cooking, sketching, drinking tea, hiking, and searching for comfort in my journals. Those journals contain little nuggets of wisdom, like the quote shared above, that I wrote down for times such as these when I need refuge and calm.
The quote has taken on new meaning in light of the pandemic. Our chances are one. We are each other’s destiny. Those are scary thoughts, particularly so given the growth of the crisis. But still I draw hope from the quote, like I did when I first read it. While our interconnectedness has become a concern of public health, we continue to care for each other and strengthen those unbreakable links in any way we can. Recently, I saw two men walking through our neighborhood, putting up orange fliers on the telephone poles. Curious, I investigated and found that they had information for a neighborhood mutual aid group. Here is a community banding together to provide for one another and weather the storm! In recognizing and maintaining our links with each other, we are honoring the fact that the only way we will get through this is as one people, even if physically apart for the time being.
Being a part of so many overlapping communities, each caring for their own and all working together in tandem to provide support for anyone in need, is a gift. Creating a new community and having that support was, in fact, a primary reason for why I applied to JSC in the first place. I saw in JSC a chance to be a part of something authentic, loving, and rooted in this place. Applying to the service corps was the perfect decision for a spiritually curious UNC grad yearning for the opportunities to do social justice work, tackle the big questions of faith and ethics, and for a return to my adopted home of the Triangle after nine months spent abroad.
I’ll end with a quote from another important spiritual mentor of mine, Terry Tempest Williams: “Our strength lies in our imagination, and paying attention to what sustains life, rather than what destroys it.” Though much remains unclear about our future, I’m going to continue to honor the unbreakable bonds that connect and support us and to pay close attention to the life-sustainers, rather than the life-destroyers. I hope you will too.