I’ve often found myself at a loss for words to express my prayers for this time. There is so much going on, how could I begin to think I could honor it all? In the past few weeks my prayer has boiled down to something simple:
- May all that is making us sick leave and
- May we allow ourselves, our communities, and our institutions to be transformed so that all life may thrive.
While I’m relieved to have found a simple way to articulate my wish, listening and responding is more complex! It’s already a challenge to keep up with all the decisions we need to make around social distancing. On top of that, all of our institutions are being disrupted. It can feel like a wilderness.
The word quarantine has roots in the idea that we are purified by our experience of inner wilderness. The word quarantino means 40 in Italian. During the 14th Century when the Black Death was ravaging Europe, officials required a mandatory 40 day period for all incoming ships and travelers to be screened for infection. Quarantino became quarantine.
Why 40 days? The number may have come in part from the many references in the bible to a 40 day period of purification. Noah’s Ark sailed for 40 days. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days. Jesus was in the desert 40 days. In all these stories, the 40 days was a period of testing and purification. It was a time of absolute dependence on God. Each of these stories are also about a significant new development in how people relate to God. As one website put it, “Whenever God wants to do something significant, [God] does it in 40 days (or years).
There are many theories about why 40 is such a significant number. One theory is that human gestation lasts 40 weeks and therefore 40 represents the life cycle. Astrologer Marina Macario suggests the 40 days correspond to the roughly 40 days of the Venus retrograde. Retrograde means that the earth is passing a planet and it will look as though that planet is going backward. I’m not an astrologer but broadly speaking when Venus goes retrograde it is a time to reflect on our relationships and what we value. Perhaps this is the origin of the human experience of 40 days of reflection and purification.
Venus went retrograde last week. As the planets align themselves in perhaps the original quarantine period and we continue to live in various degrees of quarantine, this seems like a good time to pause for reflection. Now would be a really good time for humanity to make a significant leap forward in how we relate to each other and to the Divine. So whether or not you are into astrology, I hope you will join me now in a period of reflection and dreaming.
A daily practice at home for this wilderness time
I suggest making yourself available for new ideas and creative solutions by paying close attention to your inner life. These basics, done with attention, are so powerful:
- A daily meditation practice.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Writing down your dreams.
- Being in nature and paying attention to how Mother Earth is speaking to you.
- Making time to journal.
- Exercising – keep your body and energy moving.
- Being in conversation with others about what you are wondering and dreaming about.
Clarity will come on it’s own time – chasing answers generally makes me miserable and stops the flow of insight. Yet I believe insight will come as we focus on wondering with the universe and pay attention to our dreams, meditations, and the world around us.
May we be transformed beyond what we can imagine,
Community, Support & Practices to help you through the quarantine wilderness
Now through June 25 the Healing Waters Qigong Practice Group, based in Spring Forest Qigong, will be weaving exercises for discernment and opening the third eye into our weekly practice. The Wisdom Dances Circle, based on Laura Shannon’s research on women’s traditional dances as tools of healing and transformation, is also studying how Venus/Aphrodite are recurring themes in our dances and practicing discernment through dancing.