“Love in Action”
The last public event I attended with friends in March 2020 was the screening of the film #Anne Frank: Parallel Stories, Helen Mirren reading excerpts from Anne’s diary from the attic (now a museum) where Anne and her family hid for 25 months from the Nazi occupation (and deportation of Jews) in Holland.
Four days later, the San Francisco Bay Area where I live was the first area in the country to go into shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Anne and her family did not know, when they went into hiding in the attic of their Dutch friend Miep Geis, how long they would have to remain in hiding (25 months), nor their fate when they were betrayed, captured, and sent to the death camps.
We did not know when we went into sheltering-in-place in mid-March how long we would have to remain sheltering to “flatten the curve” of the infection/death rate from the virus, nor the fate of our families/communities/country during the pandemic.
We still don’t know, and enduring the uncertainty and the wondering is one of the hardest struggles in the current sheltering.
The poem “Love in Action” was circulated by the Belfast, Ireland COVID team early on in the sheltering.
Love in Action
When you go out and see the empty streets, the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms, don’t say to yourself, “It looks like the end of the world.”
What you’re seeing is love in action.
What you’re seeing in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other, for our grandparents, our parents, our brothers and sisters, for people we will never meet.
People will lose jobs over this. Some will lose their businesses. And some will lose their lives.
All the more reason to take a moment,
when you’re out on your walk,
or on your way to the store, or just watching the news, to look into the emptiness and marvel at all of that love.
Let it fill you and sustain you.
It isn’t the end of the world.
It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness”.
– Belfast, Ireland COVID team
The poem frames the responsibility to take care for ourselves and our fellow human beings by framing sheltering as “love in action.”
We passed the 100th day of sheltering last week. And as government officials have slowly re-opened avenues for engaging with the larger world – some beaches open, some offices open, some restaurants open for outdoor dining, some gatherings allowed in driveway for socially distant coffee breaks or cocktail hours – some of us got “drunk” on that whiff of freedom and gathered in large numbers in public spaces without social distancing or wearing masks, and the rate of new infections immediately spiked and some of the new freedoms had to immediately be re-shut down.
I regularly walk a trail in a local open space district to safely replenish my spirit and be grateful for the miraculousness of life. Yesterday, as I passed a woman on the trail, both of us wearing our masks, I stepped off the trail to maintain the six-feet of social distance required. She said, “thank you” and I said, “This is love in action.” She stopped and said, “That’s a good way to look at it.”
100+ days into sheltering, it still is.