Nature’s glory still makes sense when nothing else does. Courtesy photo/Rachel Lovejoy

To say that this has been a unique and challenging year would be an understatement. After all this time, since last March, to be exact, I am still finding new ways in which the pandemic has impacted my own life, and that doesn’t even touch on how it has affected the lives of others who lead far more active and productive lives than I do. I won’t go into the litany of how many hits my own simple existence has taken. Suffice it to say that it focuses primarily on all the freedoms I’ve lost, with others maintained but with certain conditions and special considerations. To “err on the side of caution” has become my mantra, and some days, it’s not easy to get up and find some purpose or meaning to it all.

And then I look outside … and there it is … a chickadee at my bird feeder or a squirrel chattering from a tree, scolding a cat or some other creature that dared to wander into its territory. I hear the raven’s throaty call from the woods beyond and watch as dark-eyed juncos peck at the ground behind this place … all of them oblivious to what we humans, we supreme beings, are dealing with right now.

I take a deep breath and allow that obliviousness to wash over me, that blissful ignorance that provides me with a much-needed distraction from my otherwise uncertain day, a day over-shadowed by the news that someone I am close to has tested positive for COVID-19 or the latest tally of cases and deaths, and I can’t do much more than call her to offer verbal support and remind her that I’m praying … always praying … that she come through this strange and unfamiliar thing unscathed and whole. I pray, too, that those numbers which have been climbing steadily for several weeks now, will soon make an about face and start diminishing.

The long hours I am trying to fill as creatively and productively as possible inadvertently leave much room for thought and contemplation. And it is at those times that I come to a sort of understanding of this small invisible thing that has managed to become part of each and every headline in every newspaper or top story on every news broadcast … the first thing people talk about when they connect by phone or online … and the thing that has insinuated itself into my days for months now and will for more months to come.

The information we’ve been given comes from many sources, some more reliable than others, and is, to put it mildly, confusing, even to the point of the origins of this tiny organism. Did it evolve in nature, independent of human manipulation, or was it conceived in a lab? Considering the jumbled state of today’s information resources, the safest and most honest answer to that question would be another question: “Who knows?”

As I navigate through this maze of updates, projections, and opinion, I’m going to trust nature to provide the solace I need right now, and I’m going to apply the same philosophy to this virus that I apply to all else in nature: it can control us, as it has so aptly proved, but we can’t control IT. In time, we may be able to come to terms with it, to file it away somewhere in a place where it will do less damage and to tuck it into a part of our brains where it will stop appropriating our every thought and move.

It doesn’t matter where this virus came from. What matters is how we perceive it and how we deal with it individually and as a society. And if it doesn’t exactly fit in the same natural world that blue jays, polar bears and redwood trees belong to, it does deserve the same respect we show to all of nature, if only for the fact that it is beyond our power to control. That might mean different things to different people, but to me it means this: don’t mess with it. Give it its proper due, and do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t affect my life, or anyone else’s life, any more than it already has.

Then, I go to a window and look outside. I try to find something that still makes sense and that the virus hasn’t affected and can’t affect … something that resonates … the brown tree trunks and branches stripped of leaves yet beautiful in their starkness … the light filtering between them casting mottled shadows on those fallen leaves … the spectacular December sunsets that pull every color of the spectrum out of the clouds … the equally as spectacular sunrises. … Everything in nature has the power to uplift and sustain for those who take the time to notice … a lonely blade of grass poking out of the snow … a woodpecker plying tree bark in search of food … a spider weaving its web in a dusty corner … a star twinkling against a cold black sky

This, and more, much much more, will still be there once we get past this momentary blip in our species’ history. We can bemoan the current state of affairs, or we can seek out what strengthens us and keeps us hoping, and nature has much to offer toward that end. For me, the choice is clear. I hope it is so for others as well.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: