Summer. The Joys/dreams/memories and longings of summer.
It seems the pace of life slows down, perhaps this allows us to savor both sunrise and sunset.
At sunrise, the morning birdsong and at sunset, the hum of insects serenade us in a Symphony of the Species that occasionally, depending on location, can include bullfrogs, cicadas, woodpeckers and barking dogs.
I walk my little Japanese Chin dog in a local park and around my block often. On a part of our block, numerous small dogs, always outside in summer, reside in nearby homes. As Little Man, my dog, and I walk here, the cacophony of tiny yapping dogs intent on asserting their presence rises to a pitch and slowly subsides. Little Man contributes his high pitched yips while enthusiastically dancing/prancing on his back legs, to the small pup chorale and is the last to drop off with some sniffing and grumbling to finally resume his four legged walk.
In our neighborhood, kids and adults ride bikes, and basketball courts are full. Watching from my front porch swing, there is a constant parade of people. Moms with babies in strollers and toddlers who sometimes sing and sometimes cry as they walk, teens sauntering in clumps, runners equipped with fit bits and sweat bands, the young guy (without a bicycle helmet) who rides up and down the street and does stunts on his bike, middle aged women walking in pairs, and always, my neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Tran who stop to engage in the usual pleasantries around gardening and neighborhood happenings..
Around our house and in the backyard, flowers display their finery, from the deep yellow of the black eyed susans to the bright magenta explosion of bee balm. The flower beds in our home begin to bloom with hardy snowdrops in March, followed by irises, primrose, Japanese irises, tiger lilies, some purple flower I don’t know, daisies and ending the season of summer with the black eyed susans, and bee balm are my lovely cone flowers. Also in our urban homestead are textured grasses, random wildflowers, two large butterfly bushes, tons of hostas and ten large raised beds for vegetables that produce fruit from May until close to Thanksgiving.
Our yard in the summer is abundant, rich and a labor of love to maintain.
Gathering with friends, attending concerts and festivals, cook outs, hiking, kayaking and camping are at the top of the summer activity list as well as porch sitting on swings, watching the leaves on the giant white oak across the street dance against the changing sky.
These are the typical scenes of summer in my yard, my neighborhood and community.
Yet this second summer of Covid, masks are on the faces of people as they get on and off the bus stop down the street. There is a sense of exhaustion in the eyes of the mothers with the babies and toddlers, a resignation in the gaze of the middle aged folks although the masked clumps of teens seem to be business as usual. My neighbors who normally exchange pleasantries, now share concerns. The bike stunt guy appears less often, whether this is related to Covid or not, I have no idea.
For me this summer existed through our yard and garden as well as a series of events/happenings/gatherings.
This summer, it was psychologically difficult to reemerge and go from being in a tiny Covid bubble to dancing, singing and celebrating with my communities and beloved friends. It felt strange, weirdly exhausting and at the same time deeply connecting.
All of these events and happenings were wonderful celebrations of Resilience/Identity/Creativity/Revitalization/Nourishment/Tenderness.
And they were all outside.
This summer began with the availability of the vaccine, bringing hope and relief and sadly, ending with the Delta variant, accompanied by the huge amount of misinformation circulated being just as contagious as this variant.
All of this combined with a hearty dose of fear and uncertainty one week before school starts here in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is not a desired place to land.
I myself, am still processing the heartbreak and grief for the loss of life as well as the enormous disregard for human life, the disregard for science, for facts, for common decency and the common good. I lament and mourn with ritual, with song, with writing a lot of bad poetry, moving my body and when necessary, wailing and keening.
Grief can be loud and messy.
We are all tasked with living with uncertainty through these times. We can do the best we can do make informed, safe, healthy, considerate decisions for ourselves, our families and to think beyond ourselves to our communities, especially to those who are vulnerable due to illness/not being able to be vaccinated and other risk factors.
No one is expendable.
And what else is there?
For me, leaning and living into the questions that arise in this uncertainty gives me breathing room and space.
What other possibilities exist when we are called to alter and change our way of living?
How can I live into a more relational way of existing in my professional and personal life?
How can I resource myself to able to draw on my reserves when the going gets rough?
Who else thinks this way and can we collaborate together? Where are my people?
In what ways can I be of service in supporting the resiliency of my community, not merely so people can bear more suffering but so we can with fresh eyes, vision social and economic ways of being that are relational, sustainable and rooted in respect and honoring the life of all Beings and the Earth?
How can we continue to gain collective clarity in the face of continued hardship?
Where are the emerging blessings?
The most important: How do we co-pilot with God or that which we believe to be greater than our own existence?
I have no answers, only curiosity that comes from an open, seeking, expansive heart.
So, I will leave you with this poem which opened/expanded/nourished my own aching/tired yet curious heart.
Resurrection by Molly Fumia
Resurrection. The reversal of what was thought to be absolute. The turning of midnight into dawn, hatred into love, dying into living anew.
If we look more closely into life, will find that resurrection is more than hope, it is our experience. The return of life from death is something we understand at our innermost depths, something we feel on the surface of our tender skin. We have come back to life, not only when we start to shake off a shroud of sorrow that has bound us, but when we begin to believe in all that is still endlessly possible.
We give thanks for all those times we have arisen from the depths or simply taken a tiny step toward something new. May we be empowered by extraordinary second chances. And as we enter the world anew, let us turn the tides of despair into endless waves of hope.
I will meet you in the waves of Hope. I will be singing and dancing and I will definitely have snacks!