PeerSpirit Newsletter – The Owl and the Tree
May 2020


Sooner or Later

by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea

Do not try to save
The whole world
Or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
A clearing
In the dense forest
Of your life
And wait
Patiently there,
Until the song
That is your life
Falls into your own
cupped hands
and you recognize
and greet it.
Only then will you know
How to give yourself
To this world
So worthy of rescue.

– Martha Postlethwaite

Dear Friends,

Sooner or later, maybe already, tentatively or boldly we the people are stepping out of isolation and back into the social fields of community, work, and commerce. Like poet and Whidbey Institute retreat participant, Martha Postlethwaite wrote, “we have been in a clearing of the dense forest of our lives.” We have been waiting. Doing/Being. Bored/Creative. Restless/Resting. Afraid/Trusting. Together/Apart. And now we have to figure out how to be together without falling apart.

Since the middle of March, along with much of the rest of the world, we have been isolating in and around our house. We have cleaned and sorted (see Christina’s blog post on A Writing Life), weeded and mowed and planted the garden, haven’t been off island in months. We have regrettably canceled the spring session of Self as Source and our annual Cascadia Quest (see Ann’s blog on Grieving). We are looking for “the song that is our life” in this ‘now.’

Our social life has become text and email, phone and Zoom, and the occasional face-to-face on the patio on a day warm enough for us to be outside, sit 6-8 feet from each other, drinking tea from our own travel mugs. We walk the beach, face masks on and off and on again, passing others even from appropriate distance, not sure which constantly emerging and shifting facts about contagion to believe.

Self-distancing with Debbie on her deck

Truth is: we don’t know. Science and medicine are in the midst of a huge unspooling learning curve about this virus. We want to contribute our wellness to that curve, not our illness. We are doing the best we can.

Truth is: life is risk. Like millions of ordinary folks, we are constantly evaluating what risks we can manage. Masked and gloved, we have done weekly grocery shopping. We have taken the dog to the veterinarian. We have let a plumber into the house. We have followed hygiene and disinfecting protocols around each of these choices.

Truth is: we the people need to make profound changes. We need to help everyone tend to security, safety, health, meaningful work and adjustable levels of comfort. We need to support societal shifts toward sustainability, justice, and equity. The news has been both uplifting and heartbreaking and our path forward is unclear. Certainly, in American culture, sharpened contrasts around racism, classism, politics and environment are frightening.

These are heady thoughts that reflect conversations zooming around in our networks. To navigate these challenges will require skills that many of us have been honing for decades (see our March newsletter: Move but Not as Fear Moves You). These challenges will require our willingness to stay “woke” for a long time; to let ourselves be disturbed, and to question the pull to re-establish old norms when what we need is a new world.

As we move into this next stage of the new now, we are working with three questions:

  • What have we learned in this time of slowed-down isolation that we want to preserve from here forward?
  • What have we learned is no longer necessary to our well-being and how do we let it go?
  • What have we learned about our interdependence that wakes us to greater activism?

It is these, and other questions, that can provide us clarity to “give ourselves to this world so worthy of rescue.”

Step thoughtfully from the forest of our isolation into the clearing of what comes.