Today I went out looking for a single Carolina Wolfberry.
I knew I wasn’t going to find one. Their fruit appears at the beginning of winter. We are now moving well into spring. But I could see their leaves everywhere…remnants of what was once filled with bright red berries. And so I had to look.
I had no idea when I was out this past winter that our world was about to take a giant turn. I didn’t stop to give thanks for such simple treasures. Carolina wolfberries, aside, I didn’t even think to be grateful for nature walks with friends. I didn’t think to be thankful for full grocery store aisles…beans and toilet paper, paper towels and rice. I didn’t think to be scared of a shortage of ventilators or a lack of a national plan for a pandemic. I had no idea my viewpoint of the world was so incredibly naive and rooted on the idea of normalcy and stability. I had taken so much for granted.
So when I saw those leaves today, I just had to look. I wanted to remember those carefree days from just a few months ago when I didn’t worry about food supply or masks or the unknown. Those days, in hindsight, were blissful. There wasn’t anything hanging over my head threatening the life that I knew so well and loved.
I really looked today. I searched between all the cracks and crevices. I reached down to the very bottom of each plant. I would have been happy even to see a dried up berry still stuck to a branch. No luck. Spring has sprung and with it, all reminders of the winter have morphed into something different.
But, as everyone knows, Spring takes Winter and morphs it into something even more incredible. What if this is our winter and there’s a spring just around the bend?
We are living in the midst of a crisis. Right now it’s a COVID-19 crisis. There is fear and anxiety all around us. We are living in fear of the unknown. Wondering how this will impact each of us individually. Wondering how this will impact us as a whole. Wondering how our economy will survive the drastic measures of social distancing. Wondering if we’ll ever have the reassurance of the norm again.
But we’ve been living in a cultural crisis a whole lot longer than we’ve been living in fear of this novel coronavirus. We just haven’t had the courage to face it.
COVID-19 has brought with it an awakening. A moment to retrench. A moment to see our lives and the rush of being busy in all its clarity.
Where once our culture rushed to pick up dinner, now we gather round our dining room table, together, with home-cooked meals. Where once many dropped off their kids at the local public school, now parents are forced to face their children all.day.long and to see them without the tint of rose-colored glasses. Where once families rushed from extra-curricular to extra-curricular, we now have a moment to breathe deeply. To examine our lives at a pace worthy of examining.
This could be a turning point. If we just allow it.
The world has seriously picked up a pace that none of us can keep up with. With the advent of smart phones and social media, our worlds suddenly became so fast paced that our brains are crashing in the race to keep up with everything around us.
Every event has become a moment to capture. We take photos and memorialize moments that look perfect on Instagram and Facebook. Extra-curricular activities are no longer a privilege…they’ve become an expectation of success. Birthday parties have become Olympic-sized events, posed on social media to impress. Where once we simply tried to keep up with the Joneses, now we have mastered the art of sacrificing precious time with our families to keep up the Joneses AND their kids. There is always a drive to do more, to be better, to impress the world around us. And our world around us has stretched…we no longer live lives that revolve around our communities and neighborhoods. All the world is connected and we rush to connect.
We have become a people that glorifies perfection, a people seeking acceptance and a people who have managed to get every priority out of order. We have become a self-centered culture who tries in vain to find meaning, only to misunderstand where true meaning lies.
This race that we have gotten swept up in has forced us into a mode of flight, fight or freeze and our brains are tired. So, so tired.
Today I went out looking for something. A little bit of yesterday. But time has forced the seasons to change and it has left its indelible mark on everything. Everywhere life is changing and moving forward.
But you know what? I’m glad I didn’t find a single wolfberry, because at some point, I stopped looking backwards and I began looking to see what spring had brought with it. I was delighted by what I found. Sea ox-eye daisies in bloom as far as the eye could see. Ripe dewberries just asking to be picked. Indian blanketflowers, limewater brookweed, seaside heliotrope, all blooming. Butterflies. Ladybugs. Life in bloom, life in ordered motion all around me. The beauty of nature marching forward oblivious to the chaos of humanity.
Maybe it’s time for me to accept that things may never be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be beautiful. It’s time to accept what is and move forward.
I’m tired of rushing. And this pandemic has given me a glimpse of a spring yet to come. A spring where I don’t have to rush to keep up. A spring where I can just be with my children and relish them in all their amazingness. A spring where I can remember to be thankful for every little blessing. A spring where a home-cooked meal and a moment to breathe deeply are worth more than keeping up with a world that has quietly spun out of control.