2021 is here and for those of us living in South Africa the year got off to a rather peculiar start. Like a teenage time-warp, we had a 9 pm curfew on New Year’s Eve! This is neither the first nor the last change that living through a pandemic has brought to our lives. At the time of writing, many countries are experiencing a second and far more infectious wave of Covid-19. During the first few days of January, five people within the small circle in my frame of reference, lost their lives to Covid-19.
One was the mom of a seven-year-old child that she and her husband had adopted as a baby. Her husband died of cancer last year and this poor little girl lost her mom, her home, and everything she has known within the space of a few days. It is a lot for a seven-year-old to face. The local hospitals are so full that there are no beds available. A video on Facebook, that in retrospect I should not have watched, showed an older woman in the hospital, screaming for help saying she couldn’t breathe. No help came and according to news reports, she died later that day. At the same time, a friend who volunteers at a local Family Care Centre sent out a desperate plea for food. Their pantry was empty and they could not feed the many hungry families they are doing their best to support.
And did I handle this terrible week with the grace and steadfastness of a long term Dharma practitioner? No, I did not. In the midst of everything, when my poor father had a meltdown because someone had taken his toothpicks, (which were actually right there, his Alzheimer’s damaged brain just couldn’t recognize them), I yelled more loudly than him. It was not my finest moment but here is the point of this sad story.
Dharma is the ground I landed on when my world shape-shifted into a bucking bronco that threw me off balance. None of my usual coping mechanisms know quite how to tackle this level of global and individual suffering but Dharma is there, offering refuge.
Once the dust settles from our emotional fallouts, Dharma is quietly waiting in the background, spacious and all-encompassing, as open and accepting of the good as it is of the bad. Dharma reminds us of the truth of suffering and the sorrow underlying our very existence, of the preciousness of this human life, and of the vast and intricate interdependence that has never been more obvious than it is right now.
Dharma reminds me to put the well-being of others first and it’s the awareness that encourages me to make amends when I have dropped the ball. Dharma urges me to help that little bit more than I sometimes think I can and reminds me of the goodness both within me and all around, even when I momentarily forget.
Om Mani Peme Hung.
Till next time,