We are living in a time of in-between—the time before COVID, and the time after COVID. We are still waiting, holding our breath, easing into an uncertain world where things look and feel different than the before-time. When someone asks us, “What did you do these last fifteen months?” and we struggle to defend our productivity, we come dangerously close to forgetting the richness of the in-between time.
The poet, Mary Oliver—the queen of observation and wonder—writes about the in-between time in this way:
All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing.
~A Thousand Mornings
For us, it has been fifteen long months of waiting. Yet, when the world plunged into fear and chaos, redbird sang to ease our hearts. And when we sheltered in our homes and wondered if we would ever be set free, redbird sang of courage.
As we waited in the in-between time, a new way of being emerged. Despite being separated by walls and screens and masks, we managed to turn our faces away from electronic media long enough to get our hands dirty, to plant gardens in our windowsills, to experiment with the chemistry of sourdough, to play with our children, to listen with our hearts, to celebrate loved ones in a novel way, to speak up for justice, to wonder about our future and practice the art of living in the present. Now the world is waking up and redbird is singing a song of hope, drawing us out of our COVID-induced winter where we huddled in our homes waiting, watching, and wondering who we might be on the other side.
People are pivoting. They are discovering what is truly important, and what is not. We are shedding old skin, and a new understanding is emerging. We are moving towards social change and social justice. We are seeking community with one another and we are opening our hearts to new possibilities of being.
Maybe what we need to ask ourselves is not what did we do during these last fifteen months, but who have we become? I subscribe to the belief that real and lasting change begins in our heart. If our hearts don’t change, our communities can’t change. Perhaps this stop-gap in our sometimes frenetic and overly productive lives was an opportunity to look beyond the fear and uncertainty of a shuttered world, and instead look deep into our hearts?
As we slowly emerge from this in-between time, consider taking a moment to think about who you want to be in the after-time. Is it time to forgive yourself? To be more loving? To accept others exactly as they are, and to extend grace and kindness to those who look, think, or behave differently than you?
Who, dear friend, are you going to be today?
Kristin Jarvis Adams is a public speaker and advocate for children with special needs, helping to bridge the gap between the outside world and the inner world of autism. Her speaking engagements have included: Seattle Festival of Trees Gala, a benefit for Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Seattle Children’s Autism Clinic. Learn More>>