Notable and quotable: coronavirus (4)

Reflections on lockdown, the necessity of seeing trees, mending the cosmic egg, seeing the Earth from space, the ancient British mythology of plague, soul values, a poem that made me cry, and making meaning from the pandemic.

Nimue Brown reflects on the social justice implications of people being trapped in apartments for weeks on end with no access to green spaces, especially trees. I completely agree. I have a garden and I have a lovely tree to look out at from the study window while working from home. Trees are very important to me.

I feel very fortunate. For many people living in flats right now, there is nothing good to look at outside the window. There is nothing to rejoice in and be uplifted by. We know that green space is good for our mental health, but the way we’re responding to the virus is overlooking this, especially for the poorest of us. What do you do if your home is small and overcrowded, with no garden, no space indoors to exercise, you can’t travel to a green space and there isn’t one where you live?

Vivienne Tuffnell writes of mending the cosmic egg, using the Japanese art of kintsugi.

…using some gold outliner (originally for glass painting) I emphasised the cracks, the process called Kintsugi. Kintsugi is a Japanese concept, the basic idea being that instead of hiding brokenness, you accentuate and draw attention to the damage, so that an item that has been restored is seen as MORE beautiful because of its history. It’s a very healing thought, that instead of being fit for the rubbish heap, something is held up as having greater loveliness because of what it has been through.

This post reminded me of the liberal Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, mending the world. It also reminded me of that story about the two water jars, one of which is cracked, which means that it can water the flowers along the way.

And the dream that she recounts in the post reminded me of a dream I had in 2014 about climate change.

CS MacCath has a great post on how to keep an ethnographic journal. This is a really important idea, especially the point about writing it in a paper book (preferably on acid free paper). The reason Barbara Rieti was able to write in such depth about witch and fairy beliefs in Newfoundland was because she could consult an archive.

As Galadriel herself said, “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” We will emerge from this time in history changed, and those who come after us will want more than a scholarly or journalistic account of these days. They’ll want our memories, our thoughts, and our stories. Let’s make sure they have them.

CS MacCath’s blog isn’t on WordPress but you can follow her on Instagram.

Mark Green has written a lovely post on Yuri’s Night, his celebration of the first time a human being saw the Earth from space.

it is clear that Gagarin was the first human to experience the Overview Effect: the profound spiritual transformation that comes with seeing the Earth suspended in space, alone and beautiful and perfect. Many astronauts have reported this effect, and it has driven the work of a number of them subsequent to their experiences in space.

Lorna Smithers reflects on previous plagues that have beset the island of Britain, and how they were perceived:

It is of interest that the Latin term ‘monster’ comes from monstrum, from monstro ‘show’, and signified ‘a sign or portent that disrupts the natural order as evidence of divine displeasure’.

This is not to say that coronavirus is a sign of divine displeasure; more that it signifies a disruption of the natural order, because the more we despoil forests, the more viruses there will be.

Major Arqueerna offers a journalling exercise on aligning your soul values with your life:

The current global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic presents a profound challenge to humans on both societal and individual levels. As we live through such extraordinary times, we are called to examine our true values and needs, and determine whether we are actually prioritizing those values and needs – as a society, as companies, as organizations, as families, and as individuals.

Nimue Brown has written an amazing poem, We have to be good, in response to the lockdown and Mary Oliver’s famous poem, Wild Geese. Nimue’s poem is the first poem ever to make me cry (and I have read a lot of poetry).

Our soft animal bodies
Are so fragile, and those we love
So vulnerable and a hundred miles
Of knee shredding repenting will not
Save us, necessarily. Will not
Save the ones we love most.

If you’re on Instagram, check out these three posts by Jacqueline Durban, aka Radical Honeybee on the stories we tell ourselves, and making meaning from the pandemic: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

You can follow Jacqueline at radical honeybee on Instagram and Twitter. She also has a blog.

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