"Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion."
- Barry Lopez
We live next to a wood and this morning I got up really early, opened the window, put an extra blanket on our bed & listened to the Spring Dawn Chorus. Just beyond the house, at the side of the main garden, there’s a circle of young oaks. Ten years ago, when we first came here they were all terribly overgrown and choked up with brambles. My husband has long since cleared the area and has been looking after them ever since. He has sown grass seed and put an old rickety garden bench there that used to be in the main garden and arranged a row of semi - broken plant pots containing all the things that are out of season or that need his special attention as it were - his plant hospital. There are bird feeders too and an old wood stove.
No one ever goes there, and he’s claimed it in a way - to share with all the wildlife - pheasants, hedgehogs, squirrels, muntjak deer and countless visiting birds. It’s his sanctuary. His retreat. His sacred space. Every night after work he spends time there, even in the depths of winter – in the pitch dark or moonlight. Now he is home for the foreseeable because of the virus he is there so much more & loving it.
There must be so many men right now and women too, those privileged with gardens and outdoor space - but other types as well who have cherished indoor pursuits who - in spite of the threat - have truly returned to their elements, doing what they really want to do - even if that's just spending precious time with children and other loved ones after years of hard graft in various occupations and dog eat dog competitive environments, high or low. To these people - the lockdown is a gift.
Sipping my tea in the wood I wondered, as millions across the world most probably are, about what kind of a world we might create as a result of this shared adventure. Will we return to a more local way of life - cutting back on travel - maybe growing more of our own food wherever possible. Will our values, priorities and consciousness be changed as always happens to storybook heroes and heroines of course - or will we just go back to how it was before?
John O Donohue, the Irish mystic says maybe, we have all....
“..... travelled too fast over false ground;
"the soul has come to take us back."
Jonh O Donohue
There are no accidents in the universe, the wise ones have always told us – everything happens for a reason – its just we can’t quite fully see what that might be. Yet it seems pretty clear that for many – it’s a time to reassess – to go within – to do the things we always wanted to do – and turn a bad thing inside out and upside down & thrive like never before - to find our sacred spaces – wherever they might be – and when we do, maybe we will find part of ourselves already there waiting. As Campbell says,
Your sacred place is where you find yourself again & again – and if you find it – use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.
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