Downloading love, walking Omicron
“When you love you should not say, God is in my heart, but rather, I am in the heart of God.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
As a high school freshman, I contracted a serious illness, ran a high temperature, and stayed in bed for two weeks.
We were living in my great-grandparents’ old farmhouse at the time. My great-granddad had died a few years earlier, and Elzora, his wife, lived in town, so the house was available after my parents’ divorce.
I’d always wanted to live in the country where huge skies, rolling hills, and fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans were part of the landscape, but the move proved more difficult than I imagined.
Dr. Bray never figured out the source of the illness, but even though it was a frightening experience, what I remember most is the aftermath.
One Saturday after I started feeling better, my mom, stepdad, and little brother decided to go for a ride in the nearby Smoky Hills.
I wasn’t up to an outing, so Mom left a potato baking in the oven for lunch.
Although I was still weak, I had the feeling of finally shaking free from the prison of illness.
I sat in the old-fashioned kitchen, painted a brilliant yellow, and marveled at the objects in the room as if seeing them for the first time.
Tall, white cupboards surrounded a window which looked out onto an enclosed back porch, so diffused light filled the room.
Every object seemed vibrant with the gentle light, and since no TV, voices, radio, or phone split the stillness into fragments, silence saturated the room.
When it was lunchtime, I placed the potato on a Melmac plate, cut through the crispy skin to its fluffy interior, slathered it with butter, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.
I’ve never been a huge fan of potatoes, but it tasted like something prepared for the gods.
Then – and I still don’t know how to describe this – I received a download.
It wasn’t in words or images or any other way I had ever understood concepts.
It wasn’t even a concept. It was the sheer knowledge that love made up the fabric of the universe.
I knew instinctively it was much different than the kind of infatuation I felt for a certain cute senior boy. Instead, it was a force, a power, a heavenly reality.
The information didn’t make sense to me. There was nothing in my life, my family, or our country’s politics that resembled love, but I couldn’t dispute the peace that filled me.
Later, a friend gave me a book called, The Art of Loving, by Dr. Erich Fromm in which he said, “Love is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
After the luminous moment in my great-grandparents’ kitchen, I believed that, but didn’t know how to implement it.
The peace lasted for some weeks, and then circumstances papered it over, but I never forgot the experience.
It came back to me this last month when I contracted Omicron and shared it with my hubby while we were in St. George.
Not wanting to expose our family, we headed home through pouring rain. Once home, everything ground to a halt.
Although we’re aware this version of the virus is milder than the virulent variety that swept our nation earlier and took many lives, including my dad’s.
I couldn’t walk up our stairs to the second floor without having to sit and recover in my recliner for ten minutes – or longer if I fell asleep – and isolating to protect others is harder than it sounds.
Despite the exhaustion, I kept remembering the download I received as a girl, and, certainly, evidence for love was all around.
Family and friends called or texted every day to see how we were doing. My friend, Sandra Skouson, made a delicious vegetable soup and brought it down from Monticello to leave on our doorstep.
Another friend dropped off groceries, and a third brought by a home Covid test.
Other evidence was not as tangible. On good days, when I walked Omicron to the end of the block and back, the rabbitbrush seemed haloed in light.
Tiny goldfinches hung upside down on sunflowers, plucking out seeds, and hummingbirds, those jewels of the sky, danced and joisted at our butterfly bush and feeders.
The clouds, seen from our windows, piled up in magnificent shapes and colors—orange, pink, purple, and sometimes a dazzling gold. Then, the rain came, drenching our land.
Today, after the showers stopped, I took a short walk, reveling in the puddles and plants soaking up the nitrogen-rich liquid.
On my return, I stopped at the end of our driveway to pull a few weeds.
Much to my surprise, seemingly out of nowhere, a horned toad crawled up on my shoe.
I felt an unusual tenderness for the powerful little creature as I carefully pulled it off my foot and set it back in the grass.
Since horned lizards symbolize health, strength, transformation, and, in some cultures, even God’s messengers, I took it as a message of love.
Transformation sounded especially hopeful.
Later, as I rested in my recliner, thinking about all the acts of kindness on our behalf and the beauty of the natural world, I comprehended more clearly the download I received many years ago in that humble kitchen while eating a baked potato and being filled with peace beyond understanding.