Hi friends,
I’m writing to wish everyone well at this time. It’s spring in California. The days lengthen.
In summer the fires will be back. The Antarctic ice is melting.
Now the Corona Virus is here and most of us are confined to sheltering at home.

Just to give us a sense of sequence, I’m adding to this newsletter or journal each
month. It’s a record the season we are passing through, blossoms and plagues, such as
a haiku poet would make.

There are lots of good pieces about the epidemic. Here is Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic, who has done a good job explaining it all.

It is more dangerous than the flu but we’re not sure how much more. It’s not as terrible as other epidemic viruses such as S.A.R.S. The first thing to say is that for most people the symptoms are expected to be mild.

At Costco in Santa Rosa the pharmacy was having trouble getting enough alcohol for swabbing arms, and all the stores are out of gloves, sanitizer, and wipes. So people are worried. Here in the U.S. we don’t seem to be responding well at the Federal level. Our tests are not thought to be accurate and it’s likely we have lots of undiagnosed cases. On the other hand, though they started by denying the reality of the epidemic, the Chinese now seem to be doing a good job with quarantine and containment, so changes of course can happen.

The effect on the economy is going to be considerable but is as yet unknown.

Yes, good hygiene: wash your hands early and often. Try not to touch things, but realistically there are many things we touch. Then we wash our hands. As Zhaozhou said —”Wash your bowls.”

These are the times we have and this is the beautiful life we have. In Northern California, the fruit trees are taking turns to blossom, lined up like excited children with tickets to a ride. A blizzard of finches passes through every few hours, the geese have found their dance partners and are considering nesting places. In the canyons, the cold rises as twilight deepens, there’s the sound of trickling water, and colored gleams flash on and off in the pools.

The village peach trees
were not aware of their own pink
but still they freed Lingyun
from all his doubts.
— Keizan

The world is not alien, it recognizes us. Anything we meet can convey the shock and delirium that belongs to every vast moment of life. We don’t need to know what happens next, we have our own lives now. Everything follows from the blossoms.

Attention is truly a form of love and tenderness for even the downtrodden and disregarded, the insects and spiders, the sick and the well. So we can do our practice, we can sit alone or together, and in a crisis it’s a gift that we have and can share. We can keep walking. In the long, amazing journey that we’re on it’s good to stay connected with each other. Thanks for keeping company with us.

– John


PS: Here’s a frog doing her best in a crisis:



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