Gimme shelter

gimme shelter2 - 1 (1)


Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away–Rolling Stones

So many friends sent me the article last week by Scott Berinato, in the Harvard Business Review, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.”  He writes:

“There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.”

You can feel the collective grief in conversations with a loved one, and I would guess we each are experiencing our own private, lonely grief for what is threatened or lost in our individual lives.  For me, it has been the geographic distance separating me from my children and their families, which feels like the loss of safety which Berinato describes.  There has always been a geographic distance between me and my grown children, but never has it felt so lonely and so unsettling to be apart.  With Joy and her family still in Finland, under a State Department Level 4 Travel Advisory, there is a bubbling sense of dread that they could be stuck there for who knows how long, so far from family, especially their son, Fletcher, whose campus closed down in Washington.   They are looking at how to get out.  In times of danger, I think all moms want their chicks at least close to the nest, if not in it.  As Pooh tells Piglet, “we’re going home, because that’s the best thing to do right now” which feels like sound advice.

Despite the overarching sensation of grief, our shelter from the storm has been quiet and peaceful, as it always is down here by the lake.  The days have been blustery 40 degree cold ones, and an afternoon fire has created solace after a day of bad news, or the sputtering around doing mindless chores, and the emotional weariness of the unknown future.  I walked down to the dock at sunset last evening, and as I looked up the hill to our tall chimney, the pillars made of stone, and the enormous sheltering roof, ‘home’ filled me with tears of gratitude.  This is what I am always writing about…how can we find home.  And I thought of the little home Joy has created in Finland, with its silver pots of herbs lining the big windowsill in the kitchen; the Scandinavian fabric design of the drapes and pillows she found at a thrift store; the wall hanging she made out of table runners.  The sunsets they watched over the cathedral out her kitchen window, will always be with her, and the Nordic notion of hygge–“Home is a state of mind, something we make for ourselves wherever we can”– has always been part of who she is.

“Although home still represents stability in an unstable world, we’re beginning to see that home can be how we live, a situation that we create and recreate.
Home is less attached to bricks and mortar and more about the lives we lead, the ways that we connect with each other, the communities we build.
Home is a state of mind, something we make for ourselves wherever we can.
Hygge is the home we make in the flux and flow of our lives.”
Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well


1 thought on “Gimme shelter

  1. Mary J Barry

    I waited to read this because I just wanted to hear only good news. I loved the HBR article on grief. I have sent it out widely. I think of you and Donnie safe at the lake. These are the times I am so happy you live in an isolated place. I think of Joy and her family and your others in California too. My mother….always wise words….”honey, this too shall pass”. It will pass but we will all feel the grief and loss as we recover…and we will. Love you


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