If tonight the world ends,
We’ll have had this day.
– Wendell Berry
I’ve missed my sisters and nieces for this whole Covid year. It’s true we talked, zoomed and face-timed a lot. But we weren’t in each other’s physical presence. I had forgotten how nurturing it is to be in the energy field of those who share your heritage, your DNA and in many cases your memories. I have two sisters and each of them has two daughters–my nieces. One of those nieces has three daughters of her own, my great nieces. Last year we had planned to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of one of my nieces by traveling to New Mexico. My sisters had discovered a lavender farm on the edge of Albuquerque that has an inn on its property. This was where my niece, Andrea, wanted to spend her fiftieth birthday. But as you know, we were not traveling last year so those plans like so many others went by the wayside.
In the meantime we grew accustomed to seeing friends and relatives–if at all–only behind masks and from a safe distance. And no one was absolutely sure how safe even that really was. And while I am grateful for the technology of Zoom and Google Meets, I don’t find it lends itself to spiritual or emotional connections at a deep and nourishing level. It’s great for meetings, but there is something off putting about seeing your loved ones lined up in tiny boxes. So I was excited when my sister called last February and announced that since all our family had been vaccinated, we were planning to move forward with the postponed trip to Albuquerque! But I did have misgivings. Did I really want to go to the airport and board a plane to New Mexico? I told my sister, “Let’s see where we are in June.” Ever the optimist, she was confident that we were all going to make the trip and gather at the lavender farm in June.
I had my doubts, but everything I read supported the idea that it was safe for fully vaccinated people to travel domestically. So in May I bought my ticket and reserved a room at the inn. Something shifted in my thinking. With so much death happening everywhere during this pandemic, I was reminded that time was ticking away. Who could say how much time each of us has left on this planet? My mind and heart shifted from the rigid rectangles and squares that boxed me into fear, and instead relaxed into the soft and open circles of love.
Most of my family lives in San Antonio, but a couple of the nieces are in New York and one is in New Orleans. I couldn’t remember the last time all of us were together.
Miraculously, all of us but one niece in New York were able to make the trip. When I arrived at the inn several of my nieces were waiting for me in the lobby. Arms reached out to encircle me in love. All of us were so grateful to be together, to be nourished and blessed by the loving presence of family. There is a spark of connection that ignites in my heart when I am in the presence of these people. Looking into the loving eyes of one of my nieces I saw my Father’s smiling face again. In the presence of my younger sister, I was struck by how she is the mirror image of our Mother.
Each evening we gathered in a circle of green adirondack chairs and enjoyed the nurturing presence of each other as we looked out on the fields of lavendar. We sipped glasses of beautiful lavender colored drinks and the scent of lavender seemed to anoint us and bless us. We enjoyed three days of basking in each other’s presence. Though the pandemic rages on, causing heartbreak and death, I was once again reminded that Love is stronger than fear and loss, and that to paraphrase Wendell Berry, If tonight the world ends we will have had these days together.
- Write about your own reunion with a loved friend or family member after being separated from each other for a long period of time because of the pandemic.
- Describe a time when you felt your own “mind and heart shift from the rigid rectangles and squares that boxed you into fear” and move instead into “the soft and open circles of love.” What caused this shift? What were you afraid of and how did love banish your fear?
After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice. If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.
– Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry writes of a day of perfect presence that justifies his whole existence.
- When and how have you experienced such a day or even moment?
- In this poem he also thinks of dead or dying things coming back to life. Describe your own experience of death and rebirth.