Daily Connector | Normal or Abnormal | Dan Halterman

Based on March 20 journal notes (I forced myself from my warm bed to scribble these thoughts, to not lose them in sleep)

It is odd to be a potential mortal threat to family, friends, and strangers, and for them to be the same to me.  My taxes regularly buy and deliver mortal perils to uncounted people labeled by political leaders as enemy or threat.  That is always insulated by distance and unrelated to my day’s plan.

This is different for its immediacy, proximity, and uncertainty.  And “the lilies of the field and the birds of the air” go about their day ignorant of pandemic anxieties and suffering.  The squirrels in my yard are ignorant of the immediacy and proximity of death by red-tailed hawk hoping to ease hunger, fuel flight, and build bone, feather, and egg.

In these abnormal days, everything in our world except our lives goes on unfazed.  Here’s a sampling of recent normal delights in and near my back yard: the first turkey vulture circling low and slow over my street before swerving to an acrobatic perusal of back yards; a yellow-shafted flicker pasturing with a flock of starlings, its larger colorful form giving the appearance of royalty among commoners; bloodroot blooms spiraling open, having survived transplanting and winter;   a SURPRISE of trout lily leaves among the bloodroots; the red-tailed hawk pair circling and crying; market garden neighbor spreading compost and planting lettuce; my peas planted, protected from marauding birds by two rubber snakes; the lettuce and greens bed forked and smoothed; in the garage a bucket of freshly screened leaf mold from the garden mulch, to cover lettuce and greens seeds.  These latter represent this gardener’s normal hope.  And these quotes amplify the what and where of hope:

Working in the garden produces more than exercise; it produces strength, joy, hope, a tan, natural beauty, vegetables, and in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s words, a future. (Joan Dye Gussow, Growing Older)

Hope is not a denial of reality.  But it is also not some kind of spiritual elixir.  It is not a placebo infused out of nowhere.  Hope is a series of small actions that transform darkness into light.  (Joan Chittister, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope)