I feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to go to Central Park on some days to get exercise and to plop myself down on a bench where I have spent so much time over the years in meditation and contemplation with my tree friends. One of the things that I’ve noticed each time I’m in the park these days is how many people are jogging and walking without wearing masks. This got me to thinking about our participation as members of a community and how we have an ongoing opportunity to take responsibility for our part in supporting everyone around us.
As I pondered the question of why people aren’t wearing masks as they exercise and walk around Central Park, I could only imagine that they haven’t quite registered that we are wearing masks to protect one another. They aren’t really to protect ourselves, since most of us don’t have the kind of mask that will filter out viruses. The reason we are wearing them is because we could unknowingly be carriers of the virus and we are protecting everyone around us.
For this week’s practice, I invite all of us to be aware of our place within our communities. Wherever we live, we are part of a collective and we are responsible for our contributions to our community, however that might be arranged and however small or large those contributions. What I’d like to ask all of us to consider is how are we caring for our community? What practices do we bring to help support and protect those around us? In the building where I live in New York City we have active cases of the Covid virus, so all of us are asked to be sure to wear masks and gloves when interacting with the doormen and concierges in the lobby of this very large building and in the laundry room as a way to protect the people who work here, as well as to protect each other.
For those of you who live in less urban areas, your ways of supporting your community will be different and the demands on your use of masks and gloves will probably be less intense than it is for those of us in urban areas. I was relieved when I went to my organic grocery store a week or so ago and they had constructed a plexiglass barrier between customers and check-out employees. As strange as that looked, it was good to know that the people who work to keep food available to us were being protected. And, of course, we aren’t allowed in the store without a mask and we wait in lines outside for someone to leave before the next person can go into the store.
As part of this week’s practice, notice what happens when you go a little deeper into the experience of being part of a community instead of just being an individual who is in a challenging situation. Our sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves is an important part of noticing that we aren’t alone in this collective moment in time. There are so many other people sharing the experiences we are having, in some large or small ways, and we are all one part of what holds us and everyone else.
Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion in this practice and to allow judgments to arise, move through, and move on, patting them gently on the head as they go by. There are constant opportunities for new learnings when we are challenged in the ways we are now and it’s helpful to remember that all around the world our human kin are having similar, and perhaps much more arduous, experiences.
May our hearts hold one another in our ever-expanding sense of community…