"Out of a great need we are all holding hands and climbing.
Not loving is letting go. Listen.
The terrain around here is far too dangerous for that."
- Hafiz -
July has been a study in paradox, once again full of the immense practice of embracing life’s incongruities and opposites. Truths that turn into fiction and fictions that turn into truth. The onslaught of emotion and information that shifts and turns, sabotages and surprises us each and every day. It is dangerous out there. It is also safe, when we connect with our eyes, our words, our laughter, our discernment and humanity.
This practice has shown itself in three stories this month, all sharing a version of the social behavior normally labeled “weaker relationships,” a phrase that I’ve changed to in-the-moment connections. Because it is anything but weak.
The photo above showed up in my Facebook memories today. It was taken three years ago by my friend Dolly on a long, cliffside path to a beach on the Devon coast. The unexpected appearance of sun and warmth brought the promise of a seaside picnic. Yet Misha, her daughter, was insisting on wearing her Merlin the Wizard outfit – leather pants, long-sleeved tunic and a leather vest. In a sudden insight perhaps brought on by my reading of all the Merlin stories, I suggested I’d be Merlin and wear a wizard hat and carry a staff, and she could be Morgana (in her sweeter days) and wear a flowered sun dress.
It was hot as we climbed up the steep path before its descent to the water. Misha stopped, refusing to move. Turning around the staff and summoning Merlin’s humor, I urged her onward in a truly bad, male English voice. She laughed. We all laughed. Holding hands we made it to the beach, the day bathed in magic.
In her neighborhood supermarket, wearing her mask and navigating the aisles to avoid ones that were crowded, my sister-in-law Joye heard a loud clanging sound. Turning the corner, two older women with white hair were in a duel, butting each other’s cart, hands clenched, eyes full of anger. As she does, Joye quickly analyzed the situation and out of nowhere said, “Beep, beep! Beep!”
The women suddenly stopped and laughed, the aisle cleared of angry clanging and battling expressions. Then the two turned in different directions and in Joye’s words, “continued on their grocery path” as if nothing had happened.
The third story also took place in a food market. At the check-out stand I noticed the clerk had a beautiful, deep voice. I commented on it, telling her how resonant she sounded.
“Really? Thank you. I’ve never liked my voice.” I smiled through my mask and my eyes, and as I turned to go, she said, “You’ve made my day.”
We are living in intensely volatile times, filled with confusion, overwhelm, clashing worldviews, deadly viruses, and the fog of the unknown. I’m grateful these three converging stories have reminded me that one way to transform and diffuse these heavy energies is to connect with others, including strangers, in spontaneous and generous ways. Remember the ripple effect of connection—how one small, beneficial action spreads its light in unimaginable and powerful ways.
Go for a walk with friends, and laugh. Or take a walk by yourself, in awe of the beauty around you that refuses to bend to such heaviness. Send a card, share a funny joke, your beautiful smile. Summon up a tiny positive thought and listen to its song. Keep holding hands. Keep love in front of you. For we are indeed all climbing through this dangerous terrain. Together.