Into the Wilderness in the Time of
Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter
At 5:30 am in the morning on March 16, 2020, my wife and I departed Costa Rica, where we’d spent a few gentle weeks on the Caribbean coast. Rumors of the spreading Coronavirus had already reached us before our return, but mostly they were just uneasy visions, not felt reality. They had not stopped us from taking our daily walk to the ocean for a glorious immersion in the healing waters.
Our trip home was a journey through the underworld, no doubt: half-empty airplanes, masked (and unmasked) faces, long airport corridors with shuttered food stands and anxious travelers looking haunted, staring only straight ahead. After the final leg of the journey, a two-hour bus ride, we arrived at our home in Santa Rosa and promptly placed ourselves into a 14-day quarantine.
Since our return, Covid-19 has impacted our relationships with community, friends, and the natural world. And while in a normal year we would have been guiding programs in nature beginning in the Spring, this year we cancelled all those events and stayed home. It feels like, as a former staff member of Rites of Passage said, “Mother nature said, ‘Go to your room!’” During this time-out, we’ve been understanding more deeply how everything is connected. The Earth is taking a beating from reduction of pollution controls, destruction of habitat, and continued pouring of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Global climate change then raises the risk for new pandemic diseases, and the cycle continues. Humans are part of life on this planet, and what we do to poison it poisons us as well: we are not separate.
Into this volatile mix came a further devastating event, the murder of George Floyd on May 25, leading to more understanding of the violence perpetrated on African-Americans in our society. What followed were massive demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in many cities—signs that America is again facing the reality of its legacy of racial ugliness and hatred.