Last Thursday afternoon, I closed my dental practice for routine dentistry. As a usual part of the work I do, aerosol is generated and saliva is our playing field! So, staying open would inevitably mean that I would put my patients, my husband, my assistant (and her unborn baby) at even more risk of getting infected with the Covid-19 virus.
Since then, I have been in a fog. Try as I might, and despite feeling ashamed for it, the most I seemed able to do to try to serve others at this time has been to communicate relevant scientific information on social media and in emails, as well as interject some humour using these platforms, to the people I am connected with. And to pray for us all.
Its been intense trying to process the enormity of our global situation as well as my personal one. To experience the reality that my livelihood, like that of much of America, is dependent on something that cannot be transferred "online". I said to my husband yesterday that I felt it to be ludicrous that with all the years of education I have, I have no way to make a living right now.
We have ended up, en masse, on the edge of a cliff....in a flash, without warning- partly on account of the way in which the pandemic was initially mis-handled in our country. The common citizens, as usual, seem to pay a heavy price for the few who make crucial decisions.
Over the initial days of staying house-bound as much as possible, I have run a gamut of emotions in multiple rounds- anger, insecurity, fear, sadness, grief, denial. I have not 'felt' like 'doing' anything at all- mostly just going through motions of things I knew I 'should' do. I have had to push myself to do even basic things like cook and eat and sleep. I have had a hard time communicating in more personal ways, even with friends whom I love. It is as if I needed to retract all of my energy inward for a time. A large part of my mind judged this poorly as "not doing enough, not being there for others enough" but I couldn't seem to make it any different.
Then yesterday, I forced myself (admittedly on account of being nagged by Hubs) to get outside in the dirt and plant some things. While waiting for him to ready a few elements, I pretty halfheartedly knelt down in the morning sunshine and started pulling weeds from around the plants that are waking up from their time of darkness too. A shift happened.
I felt such a strong kinship to those plants in that moment. The understanding came that they know how to do what I needed to do and had agreed to be my teachers. Without the dross of words, they were speaking the ancient language of the earth and showing me how to be easy, to flow, with her cycles.
And so began the lifting of my haze. By the time my legs and shoulders and back were exhausted, the seeds were planted and my hands were black with dirt, my heart was lighter and I'd had a direct and profound experience of "sa-ta-na-ma": a Kundalini Yoga mantra I have chanted and taught for years. Its all about how infinity distills into form which then must experience rearrangement....which appears on the surface to be destructive......but is really an openness, a very feminine pliability, which allows release of the Essence of Life to be nurtured in the womb and come again in another form. I felt a warm rush of the nectar of HOPE in the energetic vessels of my Self.
There is something infinitely precious about this time, beneath all that seems so dark. And I think it has a lot to do with the 'release' part of the cycle. We are being asked to let go of nearly everything that we relied on and assumed would always be there. And it initially brought up a lot of our existential fear that seems to lurk just beneath our surface awareness. And so we ran to do what we have been schooled to do as consumers- let's buy and hoard and make ourselves feel safe behind our toilet paper forts. And BOOM! It didn't work. Maybe when we couldn't find the TP on the shelves, or when we realized if things got really bad, wiping our asses in the modern way would be the least of our worries- and that the paper had no nutritional value.
And next, as a way to flatten the epidemiological curve, we came to know a previously unheard of term: 'social distancing' and we closed our public work spaces. And the insecurity hit. Who are are we outside of what we do? How will we generate income? How will we pay our bills? We were literally being forced to release the busyness to which we cling and the multiple social interactions that perhaps we had come to use as an acceptable distraction. By this I mean that we were being asked to take a hard look at our lives and how we use our precious time. Were we on the surface, being engaging and connected and serviceful, but in our heart of hearts, all our incessant 'doing' was a way to avoid spending too much time with ourselves or looking too deeply within? Have we been minimizing or entirely deferring, the true work for which we came to this planet: the work of Just Being, the work of Just Loving?
I recalled that last week, as I closed my practice door behind me, I headed to the mailbox to send a condolence letter to the husband of a dear patient of ours who died in January (I'd just heard). The mail van was just pulling away, having emptied the boxes. So the mailman stopped and stuck his hand out and I placed my envelope in it. We exchanged a look. Just a few seconds, but such a deep connection between two strangers (he's new) who were linked only by a common humanity, facing a serious threat to life as we know it.
I said to him "Be well" and he said "You too". Words we might have used 'before'. But now, they carried the weight and conviction of a mutual blessing, And we both felt it and recognized the gift of it.
I think this is the overall hidden gift of this time of intense testing, as we face the very real possibility of loss on many levels. We are being asked to discard all that is non-essential, all that is not authentic, every word and action that is not coming from our hearts, infused with heart energy. In all aspects- in the rudiments and practicalities of our daily lives, in our diets, in our work, in our relationship to ourselves and others.
We are being asked to come again into a reverence for Mother Earth, which will mean that moving forward from this time of crisis, we renew our efforts to protect Her from harm. By the way, the thought has occurred to me that part of what is happening here is that She is helping us to understand Her sovereignty. She had the power to create a New Virus, which unchecked could wipe our species off Her back. We are not indispensable and we need to let go of the false sense of entitlement and superiority we humans have been demonstrating. Like a good mother, one child isn't more precious to Her than all the others. Like a good mother, She is administering a hard lesson to children who haven't been listening: there are consequences for our actions and She is allowing us to experience them in no uncertain terms.
We are living, in a literal way, far beyond the lip-service we have paid to this concept- the experience that at we are all connected and what each one of us does will help or harm all of us.
Yesterday, in the sunshine, touching the earth, I felt such an intensity and a sweetness and a gratitude for every breath. I came inside and proceeded to have a virtual conversation with an angel who reached out to me (yes, she is also a real person) the day before. I experienced through our interaction, such a rush of warmth and love- in a way that was both attached and non-attached at the same time. In other words, a connection undiminished by the analytical mind-chatter and insecurities that can totally ruin our human relationships and harm the balance of the energetic give and take that makes them so life affirming and rich.
Let us agree to embrace this time as sacred. It is a choice we have to make, because the mind is so clever, it can and will find alternate ways to distract us and to numb us out of this chance. Let us agree to go deeper. Let us resolve to release our pettiness and competitiveness, our endless comparisons and negative fantasies. In this time when we cannot journey externally, let's bravely lace up our spiritual boots to take the Journey Within.
Holding you in a vibration of that 'Peace that passeth understanding' and in Universal Love, as I stand in my Grace and my Sat Nam and I bear Witness to yours......
Yesterday, I finished up around 2.30pm at my dental practice with a last emergency patient before we closed (on account of Covid-19) for these next two and a half weeks for routine dentistry. Incidentally, best 'emergency' ever- a patient with a pair of dentures I just delivered who could not remove them himself! If you know anyone who wears dentures, its the kind of problem a physician of the masticatory system :-) such as myself, LOVES.
Anyway, I then had some time to attend to a call I have been needing to make since I heard a couple of weeks ago that a dear lady patient of ours had died. She needed quite a bit of work 3 years or so back. She was already quite delicate, with a number of health issues and had a mouthful of failing crowns that were causing dental infections and periodontal issues. This is turn (as it will without fail) put a huge inflammatory load on her already frail system. So we saw her a lot, over quite some time. On top of all else, she also had Parkinson's, so the work was not easy on her, or on us. But she was such a sweetheart, that I loved having her in the chair (more than she could ever love being in it, I am sure!).
She had a pair of the clearest, most lovely grey-blue eyes you could imagine, dancing with the light of humour, even as she struggled to get her words out or move her body through space. She was still feisty and so dang smart, even with all the ravages of her ill-health. She spoke with a New England drawl, entertained us with stories of her days as a high powered lady realtor and told us how, despite being as white as a porcelain doll, she came to have a Mexican name (a story for another time). She was always brought to her appointments by her husband, which was part of the delight of her visits because he is a rarest gem of a man. The way we saw him look after her was incredible to witness. They lived alone and he was her primary caretaker, though as she declined more over the past year, he had some in-home help for a few hours every day to take care of her baths. He treated her like the most precious flower and spoke to her ever so gently as he took her to the bathroom, or transferred her in and out of the dental chair from/to her walker. And let me tell you, this man flossed and brushed his wife's teeth for her because she simply could not do it.
So I phone her husband yesterday to offer my condolences. My intention was to let him know that I would forever hold the memory of her, for all the things I loved about her. But I also wanted him to know that I would hold the memory of the couple that they were and the love that they nourished over 66 years of marriage. He is now 86 years old and his partner- no, a large part of himself- is no longer on this plane of existence. I asked him if she went peacefully- and he began to recount the details of her last months, his words rolling over themselves in a way that let me understand he needed to tell this story. By the grace of God, I was privileged to be there to hear it.
He spoke of a terrible pain that began in her abdomen and several trips to the ER over Christmas and in early January. No specific reason was ever found for it and their family physician finally sat him down and said that there were some pains whose origins could never be diagnosed. It was the doctor's sense that she was actively dying and should be admitted to hospice. So that's what happened. And her husband spent every waking hour there with her for her last 3 weeks on this earth.
By this time, he and I were both crying. I was valiantly trying to make it less obvious. But when I asked if he was with her when she left, and he simply said: "Yes. She died in my arms". Well, I lost it. I apologized to him for not being very helpful and then, true to form, this compassionate, lovely man turned around and consoled me!
As I reflect on this, maybe it wasn't at all professional for me to show my emotion like that. But screw it. We had moments of profoundly real human connection throughout that phone call that I won't ever forget. I was able to thank the pure, beautiful soul he is (with words that could never be adequate enough-but at least were affirmed aloud), for showing me, in a very literal way, what love and commitment truly mean. What he did over the last 15 years of their marriage was the furthest thing from easy or fun. But still, they both smiled and laughed and stuck with each other to the very, very end.
My image is that there was a gentle, reverent handing over of this little lady- from one pair of human arms and one human heart, to the Arms of The Beloved whose Heart holds us all, forever.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...