In faith that the doctors are right that fully vaccinated people can gather, the Men’s Group I’ve been in over 30 years got off of Zoom and the nine of us took a chance spending 90 minutes sitting in a room together some three feet apart. Without masks. Ending with our ritual circle of silence with arms on each other’s shoulders. For the first time in 14 months.
On one hand, it simply felt like the next meeting since we’d last done it. On another, it was so refreshing to feel each other’s three-dimensional energy, to see the whole body and face, to call and respond without unmuting and muting. And so the first sign of returning to life as we’ve known it, but with renewed appreciation and savoring of each precious moment.
We had the good sense to bring some poetry alongside the usual check-ins ranging from clipping the dog’s toe-nails to profound interactions with highly-evolved beings. As it does, the poems charged the air with a different quality of attention and brought a different thickness to the moment and as we turn into the next phase of our time together, now almost all of us in our 70’s and one in his 80’s, we considered a new ritual of at least one poem read out loud each meeting. I suggested that we consciously balance the organ recital (the litany of our physical failings) with signs of soul-making, the latter growing larger while the former shrinks. The poetry will certainly help with that.
And so the re-opening begins. Went to a restaurant with my wife and daughter on Mother’s Day (outdoors), fly on a plane tomorrow to visit the grandkids in Portland, will go to Zadie’s school for a surprise (shhh!) singing class, first school I will have set foot in in 14 months and getting to meet the kids I’ve gotten to know over Zoom and actually hear them sing(!)— step by step returning with great pleasure and some reluctance (traffic!) to the life we used to know.
As Billy Strayhorn liked to say: “Ever onward and upward!”