Last summer, as part of the landscaping effort to beautify his home, our neighbor cleared out all the natural growth that had created a visual boundary between his lot and ours. All of a sudden there was a gaping space between our homes. My writing desk sits under the window that faces the neighboring yard and I feel as though I am invading the neighbor’s privacy whenever I am occupied at the desk while the neighbors are enjoying their outdoor dining area -especially during the summer months. Our living room also serves as a guest room. With the windows open we felt like the neighbors were right in the house with us when we had overnight guests during the summer months.
Appropriate boundaries are necessary for harmonious living.
As we have watched the horror of the invasion of Ukraine unfold, we have seen the worst of the results of boundary crossing as boundaries of sovereignty are obliterated, as the boundaries protecting the sanctity of human life are crushed, as the life sustaining boundaries created by respect and compassion and human kindness have disappeared in the service of military aggression.
I wonder when and how and if these boundaries can be restored.
I wonder when and how and if these boundaries can be strengthened and secured.
I shudder when I observe the systematic destruction of the boundaries of women’s sovereignty in their bodies as more and more restrictive and punitive laws limit the freedom of choice around around their reproductive rights.
On Palm Sunday I am invited to speak at the island Unitarian Universalist Society on the theme of “awakening.” The sermon is still in process. The metaphor of Easter looms in the near future with its challenge to believers to make their way through the darkness of the tomb into the radiant light of a resurrection morning. I ponder the notion that, often, deep darkness is required in order for an awakening to happen.
In the protective dark containment of the chrysalis, out of sight, a somewhat lowly looking caterpillar is transformed into a monarch butterfly.
As we gradually emerge from the “cocoon” of a long pandemic, I wonder who we will be. Will we abort the process and revert to our less illumined nature? Or will the time in the darkness provide the transformation needed to birth ourselves into something more glorious?
The seed of hope was planted there during the most fearful times of the epidemic as kindness and compassion were lifted up in selfless sacrifice and generosity. The seed of hope is planted in the outpouring of compassion and kindness toward the Ukrainian people.
John O’Donohue has written: We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender:they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty.
So, maybe that’s where we are - - on the curious boundary between sleeping and waking. We have had our strange time in the cocoon world of the pandemic. We have only limited vision of how the last two years may have changed us - or not.
I wonder on which side of the boundary we will land?