It is easy to turn starkly inward this spring, the spring of Covid-19. Inside is where we are encouraged to go and stay: in our homes sequestered, if we are fortunate, with our families, but often alone. If not alone, still lonely. We should not go outside, we are told, except for essential activities, and then masked against the invisible enemy, a virus, a part of nature. It seems as though the pall of the virus hangs like the remnants of gray, rainy April days over even the bright, blustery days that inevitably follow. And so we stay inside our homes, and our heads.
There is no denying the cataclysm that is the coronavirus pandemic; the suffering and sacrifice, the death, is laid before us daily in simple figures. We all feel its many impacts on our lives; I won’t list them all. I am fortunate: for me, the direct affects on life have been minimal; my days are spent largely in solitude — writing and reading, walking or riding my bicycle — in any case. Only the frequency of my now fraught trips to the market for groceries has changed. And, yet, the tragedy of this moment has filled my interior, burdening my efforts at everything, seemingly dragging life to a halt. Confined in my home, and by my expectations for living, I sometimes feel deeply that life has, indeed, stopped.
Of course, in the grand scheme, life has not stopped at all. One of the essential activities we are permitted is “exercise” for our physical and mental well-being. For me this has meant walking in the woods — along the banks of the Nashua River, around the beaver ponds and bogs of Farandnear, on the ledges of Mount Watatic – to breathe and fill myself with a world that is bigger than me, bigger than the human species, a world that lives! Outside — of my home and my head — there is something else unfolding, something transcendent and hopeful. It is spring. Spring reminds me that as important as the rhythms of daily human life are for us, ours is just a small harmony in life’s full song, and that I need to stop, to be quiet and listen. I am touched by what I hear. And by what I see.
Covid-19 will eventually, painfully, pass and be gone. But spring will be back next year, and the next, to tempt us back into life. And that gives me great hope.