"At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he takes into these precincts. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find Nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men who come to her."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, April 20, 2020

Me and Covid-19

After my last post I was swept up in a world I did not expect. Not really. As you all know, Covid-19 hit America hard in March and here in Ohio, our governor took early precautions. One by one the orders came tumbling in; school cancelled for 3 weeks, no gatherings over 100 people, then 50 people, then 10. All non essential businesses shut down. Stay home unless it's a necessary trip, for groceries, for prescription medication, for doctor visits, for those still needing to travel for work.

Maybe if I had been more in tune with what was going on in other parts of the world I would have not been hit so hard when all this came down. I chastise myself for my failure to be aware and to be concerned with what other people elsewhere were going through. It was incredibly selfish of me.

I am not a person who handles change well. Once things began to change I poured all my energy into adapting to those changes. But as soon as I had adapted, more changes came in. Although I am lucky to live in a rural part of Ohio where, so far, we have had less than ten confirmed cases in our area, I have struggled with the lack of control I have over this situation.

My studies through OBOD came to a grinding halt. I haven't touched my books for weeks or taken much time to think through things and learn and write down my thoughts and theories. My mental space has been filled with short little scenarios of worry and fear, interspersed with times I actually feel pretty happy and have enjoyed the beautiful spring unfolding and the slow pace of having all my family home with me and not going out. It's been so hard to focus on anything for very long. Even though I feel like I don't actually accomplish much during the day I go to bed absolutely exhausted at night and then lay awake for hours, tossing and turning and having stretches of anxiety that make me actually feel ill.

Marchs Full Worm Moon
Lately I have had the ability to take a deep breath and start to consider my studies again. I haven't read or written anything yet but even thinking about them is an improvement; progress; a step forward. It hit me that, like any belief system, one does not really know how well they adhere to any belief until one goes through a traumatic experience and all that is put to the test. This was the first real journey with Druidry - a journey where I have to toss out the maps and rely on what knowledge I've already gained and what my instincts are.

How has this experience so far influenced how I feel about Druidry?

I think my biggest take away so far is being thankful that I do have what little knowledge and experience I've managed to gain. On a practical level, the meditative exercises that I learned through the Bardic Grade, and daily practiced, and that have become a natural, unconscious part of my thinking, have been intensely used and so helpful. Basically, they help ground me. They help me pause and take a breath and, as some say, pull myself together. They are a filter for my fear and worry; disentangling them and enabling me to look at each one without the mess of the others around it. In this way, it is much easier to accept, deal with and release these as they come.

I am thankful that I am realizing how little control I have over anything. At the end of the day, the only thing I have control over is myself and my reaction to what is going on around and within me. I have had to let go of a lot of things I would much rather be able to control - my schedule, my routine, my little bit of free time, even the foods I cook to feed voracious and sometimes picky eater. I have to deal with a more chaotic and loud environment and for me, who needs quiet and alone time to feel peaceful, it stretches my levels of acceptance, of compromise and of finding new, creative ways to give myself what I need while also giving those around me what they need.

As always, nature gives me examples of all the things I have been learning. I am so grateful that we are still allowed the grace to go on nature walks and I have been utilizing that opportunity as much as possible. In the woods, things go on as they always have. There, you would never know a tragic virus is sweeping across the globe, claiming lives and debilitating others, and affecting families everywhere in some way. No one is untouched by this. But nature is serene; she is practical and strong. As humans shelter under orders she is reclaiming human-ravaged areas. The air is cleaner. She heals where she sees opportunity.

It encourages me to think that while part of me is affected by this virus, not all of me is. I am allowing worries to take over my  mind and become the part of me on which I focus almost exclusively. But nature shows me that while yes, part of the whole is suffering, that is not the whole. During this time I can look at areas where I can improve myself and my mind; places where I can gently pour my energy into healing. The virus does not define me, or us, or this world, or who we are in it.

I hope to get back to my books soon. Perhaps at night, when I cannot sleep, pulling out some passages would help soothe my mind. I have continued to play  music and write songs and poems and talk to others who are going through similar fears. Perhaps more than usual, because we are now by orders kept so far away from each other. I think when this is over I will be much more open about being physically demonstrative and will hug far more people more often and for longer.

Spring follows winter; summer then comes. I will wait and I will have faith that things will cycle round. I love my Mother and I love her children.

1 comment:

My Approach

This blog is written from the perspective of someone who was raised in a conservative Christian community and who was taught that the spiritual element of nature is a reflection of the glory of God. It wasn't until my mid to late 20's that I was brave enough to question what I had been taught and not until my 30's that I knew that nature based spiritual belief systems existed, though often under the umbrella term "pagan". I began to search my own instincts more thoroughly and this brought me back to the very beginning of my memory store, where I felt awe, joy and awareness in the presence of nature. Over the next years, my studying and discovery of different possible fits for my re-discovered and progressing beliefs brought me to the early 19th century Transcendental movement, Unitarian and Quaker churches and finally back to my first church, the church of Nature. While my Christian upbringing still influences my approach and I find much merit in the Bible, I no longer feel confined to narrow, specific and uncompromising views. When I discovered OBOD in 2018 I knew I had found a community of like minded people. While modern druidry is, at best, a very faint and uncertain reflection of the druids of old, engaging in earth-honoring practices makes me feel connected to the past, present and future in a way that feels natural and right. I am so happy to be on this druid path.