I spent a recent Saturday morning foraging for fruit,
and bottling my anxiety against the coming winter:
raiding lonely but laden apple trees on roadside reserves;
carefully collecting windfalls from our ancient pear tree
before greedy grubs burrow in, to spoil and multiply;
gathering hazelnuts, and wondering about the acorns.
How big will the coming storm be,
and how long will its winter last?
I wonder what else can be planted now, how to feed a family,
fearful of hunger, of lack, of loss … and yet how deeply privileged am I?
I lack nothing: biblically, my barns are full and I conspire to build more.
So many around me have so much less already,
and the sharp curves of covid19, of employment and economy
will soon escalate even further the less and the loss.
Bottling my anxiety against the storm and the winter, I pause.
Perhaps this disruption, unbidden, is a curving gift of epic proportions?
A gift of creeping calamity, already hitting hard overseas,
with a slow trickle of local cases, an occasional death. A gift, how?
In time, death comes to us all, and that tax will be paid, soon or later.
Fear of death is innate to life, yet palliation comforts not by denial,
but by the gift of care: care-full contact, even in these non-contact times.
Can I un-bottle my anxiety, and share the bounty of life instead?
Care in the face of death provides reassurance that we are held,
are seen, are known rather than alone, that death is only the end
of what we know, of what we can see from this standing place.
Yet the cosmos calls to us, beyond all we can see, calling us home,
an epic and eternal calling that moves us both forward and back,
to be undone. We each construct a life, but in time all is undone.
Undo the lid, remove the protective seals, share the fruit of life now.
‘Sawubona’ is the Zulu greeting I see you, but looking beyond sight,
sees the import and value of the other – a value not just to me,
but to others I don’t even know, and to the cosmos. I see you,
not for what you give to me, or for what I fear you may ask,
or take; but for who you are, for who you may yet become,
and for when you too are finally undone. I see you.
One day all will be undone, but for now, this day, more can be done:
more to connect, to see each other, to care. Sawubona. Shalom.
Rohan Pryor, April 2020