Time, Space, & Loss
I would assume we are all feeling constraints or challenges in our understanding of time and space during this pandemic. I am an extrovert and have found some of these long days to be difficult, with a sense of isolation and lack of interaction. I ache for physical engagement. A recent paper coauthored by Dr. Bill Hoy suggests we transform the notion of social distancing to physical distancing. The former term may present itself as a form of isolation. This is not helpful for any of us, introvert or extrovert.
I have been reading, walking, cleaning and even resorted to short binges on Hulu. In my reading, I returned to the author Anne Morrow Lindbergh. As you may recall, her son was abducted and found dead, taken from his crib in their home. She understood grief, loss, trauma; living a life of loss. I returned to her words as they were powerful to me in my acute, early grief. I wondered how they would speak to me in the framework of this pandemic and the inherent losses we may be experiencing. She writes from a beach house on an island where she is searching solitude and calm.
“My life at home, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. There are few empty pages in my engagement pad, too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives, but the important as well. But here on this island I have had space. Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think; time to watch the heron; time to look at the stars or study a shell. Time, even, not to talk.” (written in 1955)
As I read these words I was transformed back to my first hermitage experience. It was a venture replete with my tent and a few books. I ended up in northern Minnesota at a rustic campground. I was the only camper in the park. I chose a spot near the Mississippi River, where the river is quiet and restful. It is close enough to the Headwaters, the beginning of the mighty river, but meandering amidst a quiet wood. There I hiked, sang, cried and read. It was in that sacred space that I was gifted an epiphany that changed my life and my grief.
Now, many years later, I can still recall that transformative moment. That experience, my epiphany compels me to share the hermitage with others who grieve. In this pandemic, we are all experiencing loss. Some have tragic losses of loved ones, others find themselves in isolation, lack of income, depression, fear and anxiety. It can be crippling. We wonder how we will return to the way of life we are used to. The truth may be that we are forever changed; as individuals and as a society, a world.
Perhaps we can find some solace in the quiet, slower pace of life. Perhaps we will take time to look at the stars or watch the cloud formations. Perhaps we will not fill our calendars with appointments and meetings. Perhaps we will meet at a hermitage.
Peace be with you.