At the end of a long summer afternoon, a sparrow flies low across a patch of purple lupine. To my surprise, it lands, bending the tall thin flower towards the ground. The sparrow held on. As the pressure of landing became the gentle weight of sitting, the lupine bounced upward, regaining some height as it almost straightened. After a few more bounces, sparrow and stalk settled in a stillness that appeared to be something like an equilibrium. While the sparrow surveyed the field, the pliable fibers of the lupine seemed to bend gently to accommodate and support. As the sparrow took flight a few minutes later, the weight of its leave-taking pressed the stalk toward the earth again before it rebounded to fully straight once more. I wondered if the lupine felt relieved or saddened to be released of the sparrow’s body. Surely it had been built for standing tall and for bending with weight. It was made to be autonomous and it was made to be in community with the birds, the insects, the sun, soil and water. And surely the sparrow knows from birth and from experience which stalks would support his body. The sparrow knows to hold with trust and courage when the stalk bends beneath its weight. The lupine — flexible, strong, and receptive — is resilient. The sparrow — brave, tenacious, and trusting — is resilient.
Walking along the beach with my Dad, we have fallen silent. Dementia has constrained his capacity to engage in words so conversation is limited. We have found new ways to be in communion, holding hands, gazing towards the same horizon, savoring a bite of cookie with a sigh, laughing at the seagulls landing at our feet in hopes of a crumb. Dad had lost many of the layers that had allowed him to fully engage in the world but he remained persistently kind, loving and intelligent. Offering support and companionship to my Dad during those challenging years, I was in unknown territory every day. Despite my fears and self-doubt, my fatigue and my sadness, I stepped into the messiness to offer the only gift I had, myself. Showing up to each moment we had together with devotion and courage, despite discouragement and despite the losses, was resilient. My Dad — trusting, generous, and willing to try — was resilient and I — present, patient, and willing to learn — was resilient. For both of us, showing up to each moment with an open mind and an open heart was resilience in action.
It is appropriate that these examples of resilience highlight relationships. Resilience is built, strengthened, and sustained in our interconnections. We lean in to steady, give support and hold tight. We step back to flex, create space, and loosen. Resilience is exemplified in the give and take of all of our relationships. When we step into our resilient nature, we grow deeper roots and taller branches. We receive generous support and we also contribute more fully to the web of life.
This resilience in action is on full display on these days as we, individuals, families, organizations and governments, respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Alongside the fear and anxiety that underlie so many unknowns, incredible generosity, courage and creativity are emerging.
May we face the current concerns with resilience born of flexibility, patience and bravery.
May we welcome the coming challenges with resilience born of generosity and receptivity.
May we show up to each moment with an open mind and an open heart.
May we be safe.
May we be well.
May we be at peace.