From life-threatening hurricanes in the Deep South, to devastating wildfires and freakish autumn snowstorms in the West, America’s 2020 transition from summer to autumn is packing one knock-out punch after another. For us here in the States, and for our friends and colleagues around the globe, the COVID pandemic’s continuing threat to our lives and lifestyles adds yet another layer to our shared sense of vulnerability in the face of Mother Nature’s power. In the midst of these crises, it can be next to impossible to see anything good coming our way. Lately, conversations in the Folie à Trois offices never fail to include questions that seem to have no answers: “How long is this going to last?” “What will our lives be like down the road?” To the frightening point of simply asking, “What is going to hit us next?”
As we grapple with these anxieties and unsettling thoughts, we need turn no further than to the wisdom of past generations in our own families and communities, those survivors who found their paths and persevered, often embracing the only option available to them: one foot in front of the other until out of harm’s way. While true enough that we must all find the courage within ourselves, new awareness, and receptiveness to the creation around us offer a lifeline to healing. Today, the power of nature still carries with it the ability to soothe and instruct us in vitally important ways — life lessons of rebirth, renewal, and reinvention following unspeakable destruction and loss.
Over the past several months, some of us have rediscovered long-ignored things about ourselves simply by dedicating time and effort to our own green spaces and gardens. The required routines and simple tasks of weeding, watering, feeding, and waiting for signs of life afford us quiet episodes and reminders of our own need for self-nurturing and patience. For many of us, our most profound life experiences have been literally rooted in a connection to our natural world. The breathtaking majesty of mountain ranges, the rhythmic motion of ocean waves, the stunning mystery of a cloudless starry, moonlit sky speak deeply of things eternal, beyond our grasp but certainly within our view. That human ability to withstand, to battle against, and still to thrive in the midst of natural displays and disasters comprises only one part of the story, and we’re heartened by that — grateful that the flip side of the proverbial coin is that even during these astonishing struggles, nature’s promises of abundance, beauty, and balance still speak to us and sustain us. To borrow a quote from the Kentucky-based author Wendell Berry, “Neither nature nor people alone can produce human sustenance, but only the two together, culturally wedded.”