Sunday Reflections – March 22, 2020

Carol A. Hand

Greeting the morning
Gazing at the falling snow
as it thickens the blanket of white
already covering the earth
The only sounds
a whisper of distant traffic
the shrill cries of returning seagulls
and the sharp yelps
of a little dog
out for a morning trot
pulling its owner along
Grateful for the chance
to witness fleeting moments
of ordinary life and beauty




The past week has been a rollercoaster ride. But today, I can breathe deeply. Perhaps what ails me these days has simply been asthma triggered by allergies to toxic air and an extraordinary amount of snow mold exposed by unseasonably warmer weather, and my raking, for the past month. 

The toxic exhaust from the factories to the east has ceased for a time. Maybe it’s because the wind isn’t blowing from the east at the moment. Maybe it’s because it’s Sunday. Or maybe it’s because the factories are temporarily shuttered. The downside of factory closures, though, is the fact that cleaner air comes with a cost in a country that imposes increasingly fewer environmental and health safeguards on industries. Many people have suddenly lost jobs they need to support families, and the supply of stuff we take for granted, like toilet paper, is interrupted. The present context does offer us a powerful opportunity to figure out how to adjust what we produce and how we produce it, mindful of the effects on health and the environment.

There are other outcomes to the changes we’ve been facing that can have positive outcomes as well. Technology, with the help of a colleague, enabled me to meet with my class. We didn’t all have to drive separately to a central meeting site. We were able to connect from our homes in a meaningful way and still have a very productive dialogue despite our collective inability to use technology well yet.

My goals for the class were simple. I began as we usually begin class, although this time it was via zoom.

What did you notice today?

I wanted to provide a safe space for them to talk about how their lives and ability to complete their studies have been affected by COVID – 19. I also wanted to provide an opportunity for them to help me adjust the course workload and assignments so they could realistically learn what they need to know despite the new challenges they are facing – fear, uncertainty, isolation, grief, lost jobs, new responsibilities at work to cover for other staff who were laid off, arranging childcare for children who were no longer in school, etc. Despite tears in the eyes of many, we had thoughtful, productive discussions. Class ended by the students suggesting that they connect online to help each other, not only with classes, but also with other things as well.

I remember wise advice from Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

“… we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and … we have been raised, since childhood, for this time precisely.”

In her powerful essay, “Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times,” Estés adds,

“One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow
yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or despair – thereby accidentally
contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all
at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

“Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of
this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

“…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy
world is to stand up and show your soul… Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”

This week, I also noticed other hopeful signs. I have always believed that education should be accessible to all. I just learned about two new resources:

1. Open Access to all C-SPAN Classroom Resources
“With many classes moving to online formats, we have removed the log-in and password requirements for all of our lesson plans and bell ringers on the C-SPAN Classroom website. You and your students are now able to access any resource on the site, including those that were previously behind the login wall. With this new option, you can share direct links to those resources via email, social media or within your content management systems.”
Link: https://www.c-span.org/classroom/

2. “Revisioning Our World: Seeing What Works, Broadening Our View, Seeking Innovative Alternatives” is now free
“ Given the current state of affairs related to COVID-19, to ensure the safety of all, we have decided to change the modality of delivery of our annual conference. We are fortunate that our Keynote and Plenary speakers as well as many of our session presenters have agreed to record their presentations and make them public.
“Rates for the conference have changed and the only fee will be for those who want CEUs, which will cost $50. You can register through link listed under our Registration tab.”
Link: https://blogs.millersville.edu/learninginstitute/

Sending my best wishes to all…

Work Cited:

Clarissa Pinkola Estés (2001, 2016). Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times. Available from depth psychology.net 

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33 thoughts on “Sunday Reflections – March 22, 2020

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  1. Carol, it’s good to hear from you on this blessed day. Thanks for sharing these wise words from Clarissa Pinkola Estés:
    “…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy
    world is to stand up and show your soul… Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”

    My hope is that the garden I have lovingly created and maintained these past years on the grounds of our apartment complex will offer some “calm [amid] the tumult” to my neighbors now forced to work from home or out-of-work due to workplace closure. On Saturday when I was outdoors gardening, I was pleased to see one such neighbor sitting outdoors in the middle of our grass-covered courtyard to read a book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Trace. I am so sorry I missed your phone call. By the time I heard your voice mail, it was way too late to call back. I promise to do so, soon, dear friend. Sending much love to you. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So good to read this post, dear Carol. Happy you are feeling better. Your loving kindness toward others, in particular your students, is a wonderful contribution to the whole of humanity at this time. I have read Dr. Estes’ letter to an activist many times and find it especially comforting in times such as this. Thank you for excerpting it for us here. I wish you good health and wonderful experiences with your class. There are many gifts in all of this, if we slow down to see them. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Most interesting to read, Carol… yes, online is the way to go now esp. for so many areas like health and education. This benefits us to go digital or learn to use for future communication. Glad you are better and encouraging others through your writing. Keep well and best wishes in your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amidst all the fear and uncertainty, Carol, there are people doing amazing things for the world and for each other. Your poem about the beauty in the ordinary is beautiful and I love the Estes quotes. We will get through this and hopefully stronger and wiser, more reflective and compassionate. Take care. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your always kind and thoughtful comments, Diana. It isn’t surprising that someone who writes such compelling imaginative works is drawn to the possibilities crises offer in terms of envisioning the world that could be and the opportunities they present for working together to breathe new worlds into being. Sending my best wishes! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing!!.. hope all is well with you and your family and life is all that you wish for it to be!!. 🙂

    “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” ( Kahlil Gibran )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and blessings, Dutch, and for sharing one of my favorite quotes from Kahlil Gibran. It’s something I try to do. It reminds me, too, of something my college advisor, Sister Lorita, shared with me when I was a struggling young college student. Other students made fun of her because of her weight and her enthusiasm about the subject she taught – botany, “I know students laugh at me,” she told me. “But it doesn’t matter to me. I want them to learn to see the wonder of life in a blade of grass.”

      Sending my gratitude and best wishes! 💜

      Like

  6. Best wishes to you and your family, Carol. Today, on one side of the fence I see Swallows returning for the Summer; my Bees leaving their hive to collect pollen from the Damson Blossoms and Ducklings swimming on the pool. On the other side of the fence, I see the worry of uncertainty caused by this vile virus.
    As a rule, I don’t sit on the fence, but in this case, after reading your post, I will; but only to lend a hand and help people to climb and get over the obstacle that stands before us all.
    Get well soon. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Mick, I am deeply grateful for your lovely, eloquent comments – a powerful reminder to take time to see the beauty of life that is also present during troubling times. Your comment about sitting “on the fence” to “lend a hand and help people to climb and get over the obstacle that stands before us all” brought grateful tears to my eyes. Thank you! Sending my best wishes to you. 💜

      Like

    1. Thank you so much for reaching out, dear friend. It has been such a busy time. Learning new technology to transition to an all online format to teach has made it impossible for me to write much, post, or visit blogs. I also had to figure out how to provide virtual encouragement and support for students who are facing so many new challenges while adjusting assignments with their input to make it possible for them to learn what they need to know and pass the course. It’s meant more work grading papers, too. I have to provide copious amounts of feedback on written work that I would be able to do through face-to-face conversations in different times.

      There is an end in sight, though. The last classes for the semester are in two weeks, although I suspect I will need to give a number of students a temporary incomplete to finish and submit written work that I will need to grade before the fall semester begins toward the end of August.

      It has also been hard sometimes to balance my emotions during such uncertain, tragic times. But yesterday before a virtual class, I realized that I was born and conditioned by life for these times, to work with this small class of exceptional students. They are passionate about learning what they can to help others and create healthier communities. And I have the time to figure out how to provide encouragement and help them learn some of what they need to know.

      Sending my best wishes and gratitude to you, Migo, and to WD, too. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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