Here we are.
We are here, in a place of anxiety and uncertainty—we are afraid and isolated, together.
The whole world is hurting, and I am too. So are you. So is your neighbor, the one you’ve never met but you can hear cooking through your adjoining wall. So is your mother, your sister, your bus driver, your grocery clerk.
So are we all.
There is so much we don’t know. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We don’t know when this will end, or what kind of world will emerge after months of disease, loss, and the inevitable crumbling of the infrastructures we once thought so stable—unshakeable.
Here is what we do know: we are shakeable. Globally, we have been brought to our knees. Individually, we have each experienced loss and isolation to varying degrees. Our experience has become both vastly shared and intensely private. Our world is as big as the globe and as small as the room we are sitting in right now. Most of us find ourselves vacillating between feeling brokenhearted and helpless about the chaos around us and attempting to calm or ignore the chaos within us.
In this piece, I wanted to illuminate a path forward through the chaos, to provide helpful advice on working through grief. But I realize I don’t know half as much as what I thought I knew about getting through something like this—and that’s okay. It’s okay for you not to know, too.
Instead, the message that feels most important to communicate amidst the heavy weight of grief and uncertainty is this:
You don’t have to hold it all together, because the only way to hold this is all together.
This global disaster has proved that as nations and individuals, we are not as independent as we like to think we are. COVID-19 has erased the walls we have built up between your side and my side of the world, the city, and the street. The truth is, we need each other—desperately. We need one other’s hands and hearts to hold up this broken world, to fill the empty places, to clear the path of destruction this pandemic leaves in its wake. We need each other to heal.
Perhaps the best way to move forward—at least for today—is to be still. To stay put, casting our roots deep, deep into the earth, spreading our arms wide in compassion toward one another, trusting that when the time comes, the sun will rise again. We will bloom and grow and thrive in ways only possible because of the suffering we have experienced together, stronger than what has broken and divided us.
A peculiar thing has been happening to me recently.
When I close my eyes at night, I see a flash of light and wings and a soaring white bird—she hovers in my mind’s eye for a moment, and then she disappears.
Maybe this bird is a dove, a symbol of the peace we need at a local and global level.
Or maybe, just maybe, this bird is us—a phoenix, beautiful in her destruction, unshakeable in her rising from the ashes of yesterday.