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January 2, 2021

What Will We Take With Us?


What Will We Take With Us?


Collectively, we are all trodding towards a destination which we really can’t define-

life will not be the same, possibly ever, in our lifetimes. The ripples of changes

will likely be felt from here onward. Some ripples of change will help create a new normal. Some will change into something else. Reflecting on this monumental year, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been asked to be on the front lines in some way.


I initially wrote this reflection last spring, but have revisited and rewritten it today-New Year’s Eve.


“What will we go back to? What will we take with us?”


I wrote the following last spring. Will we value Nature’s Beauty more?


One thing I’ve noticed is how loud the birds have become. I wait excitedly for

the hour before sunset when the skies and trees erupt with this “Bird Raga for Dusk”

or Bird Jazz. So many voices, all finding their place in the choral celebration of another day. It goes on and on in such a joyful thanks-until the last bird. The quiet air provides a welcome motif for their songs to be sung. There is very little man made noise for the most part. I’ve noticed that the birds solo in succession and with respect to others. Very little interrupting! Room for everyone to give their tributes.



Restorative Just-US. We’re all invited at the table.


Then, the frogs. I slept outside last night and could hear an overlap of all the different ponds in this area, singing with frogs. Sometimes an entire pond would quiet, and it was as if a stereo speaker suddenly quit. Then another would come in, and another, a cacophony woven together like a beautiful plaid fabric, frogs doing their algebra, as one of my friends said. Right before the moon rose, they all quieted. Like church.


And in other realities, bodies are still being zipped and stacked, humans whose lives may never be reviewed let along grieved. Health care workers who may never get to stop and reflect on  these times.


A whole new wave of PTSD and Moral Injury.


Unprocessed grief and loss will become even more of our culture than it has been.


How can we hold the Both/And of these times?


That is our task.

Not to negate the tragedy, but to also see that in some ways, we are glimpsing fractals of beauty and connection which had become nearly lost to us in our busy-ness.


In the early days of quarantines, I heard many people say

“I have my family back again-I thought these days were long gone”

and “have you noticed how much closer in the birds are now

that there isn’t so much air noise?” One of my very elder friends said “I am so

sad to see what is going on, AND have you noticed the whiteness of the clouds

and the blue of the sky? This is how it was when I was a KID!”



What will we take forward from these glimpses?


How can we expand our connection and interconnection?


Intention? Creation? Sustainability?

Connection with all forms of life?

What will we leave behind?

Distraction? Destruction? Disconnection?

It really is up to us.


Dr. Larry Brilliant, epidemiologist, said “Pandemics are like rivers, than can create and re-create boundaries of countries but also boundaries around how we live.”


How wonderful, if we as a world,  all share and care for this newly revealed and remembered beauty, if we can find ways to intentionally keep the birdsong loud, the jets quiet, the traffic sane, and some evenings tranquil.


– Susan Shannon, M. Div, BCC.




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