March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day, and I’ve decided to let you in on a little secret. My mother wanted to name me “Kathleen Mavourneen” after the old Irish ballad, but my older sisters prevailed and I ended up with “Kathleen Helen.” (I think I prefer “Mavourneen.”) My heritage is not all Irish, but I have a very large hunk in my genome—enough to consider what exactly is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Last week’s blog started with me perusing the front page of the LA Times and not seeing one positive or uplifting article. Today, front and center, is an article entitled “Bipartisan Hustle for a Deal on Coronavirus Assistance,” with a photo of Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, both smiling while elbow- or fist-bumping. Actually, all I can tell is that they are wisely not shaking hands, but the point is that our Congress is working together. I love that word: bipartisanship!
A lot has happened in the past week. COVID-19 has taken center stage and forced all of us to (hopefully) alter our behavior in order to protect not only ourselves and also others from infection. For my husband and me, that means not attending the wedding of a beloved niece in Austin, Texas. I shed a few tears over than one. But cancelled social events have become the norm. On the horizon is a trip to Hawaii. I understand that “aloha” means hello and goodbye. And I think we will probably say goodbye to this trip.
In the meantime, it has started to rain, which is a very good thing for us. Yesterday, I was looking out the window as mist and watery sunlight formed a partial rainbow against the mountains. As I watched, the soft pastel colors dissolved into the dark green of the chaparral—so ephemeral. In true Irish form, I wondered if there was a pot of gold nestled under the branches of a Manzanita bush.
And then I began thinking about our world. It feels like someone has taken the fabric of our everyday life and given it a good shaking. As a public health professional, I have been steering people to trustworthy sources for information on the coronavirus—like state and local public-health departments, as well as the CDC. I’m seeing various reactions: almost-hysteria, fueled by misinformation; blasé boredom; fear; denial; and so on. But it must be clear to everyone that life as we usually live it is on hiatus.
That we will get through this, I have no doubt, but it is up to each of us to decide what we will take from the COVID-19 assault on our pristine shores. Taken all together, the events of this year have changed my life permanently. What I have learned is that the most precious thing we have in life is each other—not just our relatives and friends, but our whole community, and that includes the weakest, the strongest, the youngest, the oldest, and all those in between.
And yes, Marcy Mary, that includes our four-legged friends too.
And so I’m hoping and praying that our actions in the coming days reflect our higher natures. Together, we can turn this viral assault around using sensible precautions that protect ourselves and the world around us—our blessed community.
So where is the pot of gold? I suspect it is in our backyards …
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.