I’m never sure how my role as unofficial pastor of Oshkosh will be called on, but when it is I am humbly awed by the tiny little ways I can be a vehicle for loving care and support, or to be the recipient of some profound gem of wisdom. This morning, I experienced both, and it was the gem of wisdom is what hit me the strongest.
For the past almost 20 years, The New Moon Café and Coffee Shop has been my official home away from home. It is one of my places of refuge and a place I can go to for my daily hug – both in the form of a cup of dark roast and in the loving relationships I have cultivated and enjoyed with owners and the ever-evolving staff of young people (young to me) who work there. The New Moon draws an eclectic crowd of students, artists, professors, business owners and the local disenfranchised. At the New Moon everyone is welcome (unless they try to cause harm to someone working or another customer). I love the New Moon and during this shutdown I have made it a point of visiting there as much as possible to help support their being able to continue past the Covid-19 frenzy.
It was just this frenzy that became the point of conversation as I stopped at “the Moon” after my Sunday yoga practice. Behind the counter were two young women I haven’t seen since the shutdown and it was a reunion of sorts. As the only customer in the place, we had time to chat. “How are you surviving shutdown?” I asked. Both women shared their respective tools for managing in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis along with their observations of what they see happening in our world. For anyone who is still critical of Millennials and Gen-Xers, I would say, you have not met the crew at the Moon. Both young women had a really good handle on their own self-care, along with a deep well of compassion for a world in distress. The message that pierced through the many aspects of Covid-19 we explored was this:
Handle with Care!
Through the wisdom of these young women, I was reminded of the many reactions we are witnessing to the Covid-19 event and the invitation to not be too hasty in judging those reactions. Instead, these wise young women reflected on the necessity of holding these reactions in loving compassion. We do not know how people’s unhealed fears, past traumas, or societal conditioning might be influencing their reaction to Covid-19 and everything related to this (literally) viral event. We don’t know people’s individual vulnerabilities – most especially those who may have a health situation that makes them especially susceptible to the virus. We do not know what tools people have or (most likely) don’t have for managing, stress, the unknown, fear, the inability to control, etc. etc. etc. We just don’t know. Neither will we know unless we ask, and even then, we might not understand. How can we know unless we have walked a mile in their shoes?
The bottom line is this: when we feel ourselves triggered by other people’s reactions to Covid-19 we are invited to refrain from judgment, contain our temptation to react and then Handle with Care. Instead of casting a finger of criticism or blame, can we instead hold each other in loving compassion? Maybe if we learn to handle each other with care, together we can find our way through the Covid-19 event and to the new life that is seeking to be born on the other side of this crisis.
Thank you Sierra and Kristi for your compassionate wisdom! <3 <3 <3