“Pandemic,” a Poem by Lynn Ungar

With special thanks to our good friend Joe Jansen, who sent me this poem, and to the website Science and Nonduality where it appeared … here is “Pandemic” by San Francisco poet Lynn Ungar, www.lynnungar.com.

 

Pandemic

 

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

 

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

 

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

 

Thank you, Lynn! Some pretty good thoughts, I think, for those of us whose work is interior to begin with. Don’t get too crazy and keep doing what you do.

And keep washin’ yer hands!

 

 

 

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34 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on March 18, 2020 at 6:53 am

    Perfect! Thanks to Joe, and to Steve for posting this – we all need to hear this right now. Stay healthy, everyone.

  2. bob therriault on March 18, 2020 at 8:04 am

    The power of words. I hope all can retain that centre calm in the days ahead. I will certainly be working on it.

  3. S on March 18, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Thank you thank you!

  4. Kate Stanton on March 18, 2020 at 8:08 am

    “Reach out your heart.

    Reach out your words.

    Reach out all the tendrils

    of compassion that move, invisibly,

    where we cannot touch.”

    Beautiful. This certainly reached my heart. Thank you to Steve and everyone. Stay safe and healthy.

  5. Anonymous on March 18, 2020 at 8:10 am

    Beautiful and poignant. Thank you for sharing and lifting us up during this difficult time.

  6. Skip Raschke on March 18, 2020 at 8:10 am

    nothing like this Corona reaction today was in play during the obama admin’s H1V1 Virus crisis.

    President Trump:
    COVID-19 Wuhan Virus
    U.S. Cases: 6,946
    U.S. Deaths: 104
    Panic level: Mass hysteria

    President Obama:
    H1N1 Virus
    U.S. Cases: 60.8 MILLION
    U.S. Deaths: 12,469
    Panic level: Totally Chill

    nice poem.

    • annie on March 18, 2020 at 10:19 am

      i had similar thoughts

    • ROBYN A. WEINBAUM on March 22, 2020 at 6:43 pm

      DO THE MATH:
      Corvid19 Fatality rate based on your number: 1.5%
      HiNi Fatality Rate based on your number: .02%
      So Corvid19 is 20 times more fatal.

      just because you are a ‘writer’ is no excuse for being math ignorant.

      • CT on March 22, 2020 at 10:06 pm

        TO defend the writer, he did what writers do, tell story, not math. Thank you for catching that SPIN.
        MORTALITY rate is what is missed when people compared the two. Nor did we see the Italian Army driving bodies away from overfilled morgues. H1N1, although I am not quoting data, did not pass without symptoms being shown, so we knew when we had ‘a bug’ . . . that then escalated, or ran the course of the annual Flu. I am not an Orangey supporter either, and I would take Obama for another 8 if we could.

    • keram on March 29, 2020 at 5:54 pm

      You cannot compare thee two! They have (had ) different spread, different infection strength, etc

  7. Lyn Blair on March 18, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Wonderful poem. It speaks to what matters and to the truth. Lots of love to all!

  8. Joe Jansen on March 18, 2020 at 9:06 am

    One of the Stoic aphorisms from Epictetus seems good for today: “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

    There’s no better time to recognize (1) the things we cannot control: external events, other people’s actions, versus (2) the things we CAN control: our own actions, the thoughts that arise within our own minds, and the emotions that arise from those thoughts.

    Do we have any other choice than to choose how we will consider this time? Is there a sacred opportunity to recognize the stark truth of how we are all connected? Skin color doesn’t matter. The sound of the words of the 6,500 different languages spoken on this earth don’t matter. The shapes of the emblems on a “passport” don’t matter – it’s all part of the story we tell ourselves about “us and them.”

    We’re all one thing, and our lives are in one another’s hands, as Lynn’s poem says. Is our ability to grasp that truth part of some deeper meaning about what’s happening here – a test of our ability to demonstrate selflessness?

    The air over China and the waters in Venetian canals are both running clear. An Israeli man who stole a 2000-year-old catapult ball 15 years ago has returned the artifact to the Israeli Antiquities Authority. What is the earth saying to us? What is history saying to us?

    The Stoics said that what matters is the story we tell ourselves. Lynn Ungar asked us to “Promise this world your love.” There’s meaning and a story underlying all this, and it’s for us to find it.

    • Joe on March 18, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Wow… I see from Lynn Ungar’s FB page that her poem has been shared nearly 2,000 times (probably more than that before long). Bravo, Lynn.

    • Brian Nelson on March 18, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Joe,
      This was the perfect post today, and I love your “Meditations” reflection. I need to add that to my daily reading period. I also like James Allen’s daily meditations:http://james-allen.in1woord.nl/daily.php

      33 flavors, all made from milk.
      bsn

  9. Jule Kucera on March 18, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Thank you Lynn and Joe and Steve.

  10. Brian Nelson on March 18, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Dear Steve/Joe, and especially Lynn,
    This is the perfect medicine for this period of uncertainty. How do poets do it? I was hoping that this blog would contain something about the pandemic this week. As an all-star catastrophe-izer, I have had to play mental jiu jitsu numerous times since late January.

    I swung by the YMCA yesterday to borrow a few kettlebells, and did another wholesale run on pet food for our animal rescue. We doubled our order for prescriptions for our dogs and cats as well, we ‘specialize’ in older, less-adoptable dogs and cats, so many if not most are on life-long medications.

    As I was talking with my friend/maintenance director at the Y, we discussed how will we hold hands with social distancing. I’ve been deliberately praying each morning for my loved ones, our leaders, our infirm, our communities, nation, world–but I also have noticed that I’m almost in a constant state of prayer throughout the day, “Please God, let us be calm, give us courage, let our better angels surface..”

    I spoke with Joe on the phone last week, feeling a greater need to connect with someone with whom I knew I could talk about this situation without judgment–but also with whom would have wisdom. Joe sent me this in an email:

    Oh–before I post this, I said to him that I believe it is the creatives, the artists, the writers who will keep us sane and explain all of this to us. In that vein, Joe sent me a quote from Pat Conroy from his memoir “My Reading Life:”

    “From the beginning I’ve searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul-killing doubts. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through the complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die.”

    I am very grateful to all of you who make art. As a younger man, I blew off the humanities. I was way more interested in sports, women, drugs/alcohol, fighting, and facts. It wasn’t until I returned from war that I began to really appreciate the “meta-truth’ of the humanities.
    Be well.
    bsn

  11. Marie-Eve on March 18, 2020 at 11:59 am

    So beautiful, thank you!

  12. Joe on March 18, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Brian mentioned his ideas about how artists show us the way. I just watched this: novelist John Green offering one path through the dark:

    https://youtu.be/dh23nwxpfe8

  13. Robert vanderMark on March 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    The best. Thanks, Steve!

  14. Carol Holland March on March 18, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks, steve and all of you, for the poem and your heartfelt words. We need the artists now more than ever, for we are the ones who can see in the dark.

  15. Michael Chaffin on March 18, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Amen…thank you for sharing.

  16. Advait Deshmukh on March 19, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I don’t want to sound condescending, but I am an extreme introvert, so life is all the same for me!

  17. Jurgen Strack on March 22, 2020 at 2:34 am

    Thank you Steve for sharing Lynn’s beautiful, ‘triffic’ poem. Have shared…

    Love from Perthshire, Scotland

  18. Pete Romcevich on March 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    A. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid. B. Summer is a state of mind.

  19. Craig Lander on March 25, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Pretty shallow poem which is directed to all of you connected to THE MACHINE and can’t unplug from it or want to get away from the damn thing.

    • Anonymous on May 2, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Hummm you have a option.

  20. Natalie Say on March 26, 2020 at 4:01 am

    Great poem 🙂 Going to seize this opportunity to beat Resistance by staying home to do what matters most.

    Let’s slay the dragon amid COVID-19!

  21. REBELLICCA on March 27, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Such a lovely poetic piece! One can find strength in art to change their perspective. And a change of perspective often becomes a gateway to new possibilities in almost any circumstances….

  22. Mary Martin on March 28, 2020 at 3:49 am

    Beautiful poem,it gives expression to all that I feel in these strange times and lack the words to express.They certainly lifted my spirits this morning and thank you Lynn for that. Hope they do the same for many who wish to dispel fear and find inner peace

  23. Vika FittsMilgrim on April 7, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I stumbled here having read this poem already and was googling the author. We are all Interconnected – and we all have gifts to share. Together we makeup the diverse tribe of humanity. Only we can choose to use this time to ask ourselves ‘Am I living Pono? Am I living devoted and committed to my world?’ Aloha!

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  25. ???????????????????????????? on May 1, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Stupid poem all u rich white ppl like it

  26. Luisa on July 19, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    Painfully beautiful.

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