Like most of us, I too have changed my mind about the coronavirus at least a few times– our ongoing opinions and reactions seem to quickly become sidelined by an unfolding larger than our capacity to predict or sort out. It has left us mostly dumbstruck: In my lifetime, and even in that of my parents, we have never experienced such a far-reaching global shakeup, with whole countries shutting down. Whether this has grown to be so paramount because it is, or because governments and the media have made it so as some still argue is truly beyond the point now. The point is: We are here. And we are being changed by an intelligence that feels much vaster than our own.
In the worldview of interconnectedness, the coronavirus is a part and a messenger of a global intelligence: We share psyche, body, and consciousness with our living Earth, and we are only a small part in the astounding symphony made by the joint movement of oceans and tides, deserts winds, moonrises and descents, ecosystems, animals, populations, and their activities–– the synergy of earthly life in which everything is both impacted and making an impact, every stretch of the way. It has regulated and organized itself with such flow and profundity for millennia. And it seems to be doing it right now. Not in some Doomsday-like scenario, but with what I see as a lot of love and very clear communication– like a mother who needs to raise her voice significantly and get real stern with the children she adores.
Beyond the obvious hardship, there is unparalleled beauty and grace with which the coronavirus is moving to make unprecedented changes–– the skies are emptying, our public spaces are locked down, and– as I like to imagine all the time now–the birds are suddenly flying a little freer and our wilder four-legged fellows are feeling the quietness of their territories for the first time in decades, as urban habitats quiet down. And we? Well, we are stopped in our tracks, brought to a jarring halt, asked to PRESS PAUSE.
Press pause and sit down, this is the obvious key that Corona is handing us. And it helps to notice that this demand is rippling most forcefully through the developed countries which have held the world's power for a long time. It is beyond doubt that the coronavirus is inducing a peak mythopoetic moment in our story, the Story of the People in the greater myth of the Earth. From a mythological perspective, we might be seen as the heroes who have ventured too far and forgotten the sacred contracts of our earthly adventure.
This time, instead of isolated natural disasters, economic crashes, civil violence or migration crises, Corona has the global human village looking in the same direction, as if it is saying, nothing has made you slow down in a while, so sit down a minute and come still. Come still not just in your living rooms, but still inside, and still as a whole, in a way you haven’t been in decades. Sit down together––but a new kind of together– as a global organization that now gets a chance to meditate on its impact on the much vaster organization of life.
In the organism of interbeing, the corona wave is swelling up and sweeping our lives as a self-propelling force, much like a tsunami wave or an avalanche that rises only in the right, unique conditions. Might it be arranging the perfect storm, a last resort perhaps, through which we can be deeply altered at long last? In the collective psyche, coronavirus is an archetypal movement and can be expressed as an archetypal creature. I have begun calling her Corona the Crone, and I think of her as manifesting universal intelligence, a raising of the voice of the Wild and Wise Earth who is often embodied as an old wise woman, and is now finding preverbal ways to make herself understood: Pressing pause NOW is only the start....
In our frantic ways, always on the go to maintain our comforts, our structures, our economic growth at all cost, we have not been able to hear what the Crone has been trying to say for much longer than we care to admit: We are not healthy. We are not in balance. We have not been in harmony with the web of life. We are not just now getting sick––we have been sick for a long time.
And it seems to me that like a true Crone, Corona is mandating a single and inevitable unfolding: That we must do this together. We may be closing borders and socially distancing, but the truth is that under the spell of pause, we are beginning to sense and to feel our vast and irrevocable togetherness––that we are connected in terrifying and powerful ways, and that, quite literally, we hold our lives in each other's hands! And that this togetherness ripples through all of life.
Perhaps we needed to come to our knees to feel the sacredness of Corona’s whisper. And I do not pretend to know what else is there to be heard in the silence, the necessary stillness. But how we meet and respond to this now can be how we meet and respond to all of our many crises. For now, we are offered a chance to reorganize our lives, to commit to the health of our bodies, and even more fiercely to commit to the health of those around us, loved ones and strangers alike. This is not longer about you or about me, or about our economy, or about our businesses– we will all bear the losses. This is finally, excruciatingly, about us. About us together with it all. And to this we must surrender.