A year ago, we had no idea what this day would hold in the pandemic.
All year, save those precious days last January when we were birding at the beach, we have been
mostly hunkered down at home–
No need for suitcase or GPS. We have slowed down.
We have pondered what matters.
We have taken Mary Oliver’s advice to remember what our work is–
“standing still and learning to be astonished.”i
Virtual Church became the norm. Even as we tired of Zoom,
we were glad to “see” one another at Church.
I prayed and sang, talked and lectured, presided at Church (by Zoom).
I wrote an icon of Julian of Norwich in a class of ten women and a teacher in San Diego (by Zoom).
I gave an art history lecture/retreat for Benedictine oblates, and gave not a few sermons (by Zoom).
I sent Compline every Wednesday for a whole year (by e-mail).
I wrote an illuminated manuscript of Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, with
music notes I could chant–in a class of sixteen from around the country and an
instructor in Philadelphia (by Zoom).
I attended a lecture on art and spirituality by Sister Joan Chittister who reminded us that Beauty will
save the world (by Zoom).
Keats said, “Beauty is Truth, Truth, Beauty”. . .all we need to know.ii
The Desert and Chinese Monastics said if you have two pennies, buy a loaf of bread with one
and a Lily with the other. You cannot live by bread alone.iii
You need beauty to find your soul.
I found a university poetry course and wrote poems in class (by Zoom).
I read my poems at a bookstore reading of “Writers at Home” (by Zoom).
I joined the Great Smokies Writing Program (by Zoom).
I sang in the choral society (by Zoom).
I spent much time outdoors with my birds (not by Zoom).
I took an ornithology course at Cornell (by Zoom).
I attended workshops on spirituality (by Zoom).
I learned new things in a year of shutdown (by Zoom).
The year has been for finding our souls, for finding beauty in this winter of
our discontent, for finding a way to sing on Zoom rehearsals, for finding our way
on the road we do not know, as Thomas Merton said.iv
T. S. Eliot said we would arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.v
Mary Oliver said, “let me keep my mind on what matters.”vi
Zoom on my soul, what matters is writing poems, studying birds,
and singing the song my heart remembers–“it is well with my soul.”vii