April 2022

Pandemic Reflections #10

The branches of the mesquite tree in our front yard are contorting in the violent gusts of wind, first one direction, then another. The sky is an angry red-brown and its presence casts an invasive and unwelcomed expression of Mother Nature and her stomping of spring into its destined place on this year's calendar. Thankful that we have learned from previous escapades such as this, the five main branches of the swaying tree are now cabled to the mesquite's center, offering some protection from additional snapped limbs, adding their wounded selves upon the greening grass below. Three different snapped branches over the years sacrificed to this same strong display of wind, and we grieve the loss of its beauty and of some of the majestic definition of the original multi-trunked mesquite. Her current shape is now radically altered from the earlier beginning of settling transplanted roots deep into the soil it would grow to call home. As we watch the movement of wind upon branches and branches upon cables, we marvel at the ability of the tree to withstand the elements of wind and metal while continuing to offer a haven for a returning red-bellied woodpecker seeking respite in between flights. For sixteen years of doing life together, this tree….our tree…has adapted to her injuries and the supportive bracing as best she can. The birds have adapted to the thinning of the leafing for camo purposes and adjusted their positioning in her, and we, the tending stewards, have adapted our image of a once diminished tree to that of an ever evolving resilient spread with its lacy shade cascading across our yard. We are grateful for her continued presence and her tenacity offering her lessons when we pause long enough to hear her whispered wisdom.


"She stood in the storm and when things did not go her way,

she adjusted her sails." Elizabeth Edwards




Our thoughts drift to the past two years and the unwelcomed presence of a pandemic that pressed itself into our lives. It was a storm that blew relentlessly month after month in ways we had never experienced and had no expertise to offer to successfully navigate this circumstance. The winds circled, twisted around us, and even sought to divide and splinter us against one another, and we cabled ourselves with our faith to a Center that was sufficient to steady our hold. Through an altered lifestyle with social distancing and masking, a new norm, we developed creative ways to both conduct business and to maintain contact with family and friends. Science and faith united in many ways to develop medical protocols for prevention as well as treatment for this virus and we sought to educate ourselves and to make informed decisions for our care. And in the midst of all these months in which those pandemic winds even now still blow, a steady toll of lives continued to be lost to this persistent virus. From all political persuasions, social statuses, and faith perspectives, our family members, friends, and colleagues were impacted by COVID, and we grieve the loss of our loved ones to this viral infiltration. From within the shared experiences of the community of Intentional Living alone, 62 intimate others succumbed to this siege and our hearts ache with these losses as representative of the vast loss experienced as a country and as a world. Each life lost, someone's parent, someone's child, someone's spouse, someone's friend…a grief while universal, deeply personal and private, the impact everlasting. And our grief continues its unfolding….


Remarkably, the tree still stands, cabled, adapting, and adjusting to the winds blowing in unpredictable ways as they often do. You, our dear clients, have born witness to us of that same strength of resiliency….of adaptability. You have found ways to honor your deceased loved ones, to tell their stories, to celebrate the love shared with them, and to bear powerful witness to the strength of the human spirit finding its way to first survive and then to thrive in adapted ways. Many of you have fought through with a remarkable tenacity of spirit as you have dealt with the long-term effects of COVID that demanded, and in some cases, continues to insist on numerous changes to your daily lives. You have responded to limited availability to former outside of the home activities by finding creative ways to unite as a family through learning new games with one another, creating art on walls or backyard fencing, adapting familiar music to penned pandemic lyrics, contributing to others' lives through thoughtful gestures, performing magic tricks for one another, becoming culinary experts in boutique grilled cheese sandwiches, ever experimenting in discovering untold new aspects of the self and of the family. You taught us to connect with you via video, inviting us into your homes, your offices, your cars, your backyards, even into your quiet closet spaces. Our initial resistance to engaging in therapy this way was strangely transcended with your adaptability, your graciousness, and your adventuresome spirit to be open to this novelty. In time, what once felt awkward and limited, grew to feel intimate and invitational as we met your children and your pets, shared in your artwork and new additions to your furnishings, and sat on your patios with the birds chirping and squirrels dancing in your trees. We thank you for your patience with us in this process undertaken together and for all that you have taught us over these last months as we navigated collectively. Together we have walked into the unknown …we stood in the presence of the storm holding onto the Center Branch while linking arms with one another, and we learned in new ways our capacity to adjust our sails. It is a sincere honor and privilege to take on the journey of life together with you. However the winds may blow, we are confident in the Strength within us and between us to be more than sufficient to sustain and guide us forward.