letter from home

March 20th, 2020

I’m writing these words on a blank sheet of paper in longhand, which is a forgotten word, although it used to be the only way anything could be written. Longhand is the way I write all the letters I send. What makes this relevant, I’m not quite sure, except that I spent the morning writing letters, which is something I can still do, and after that I walked to the post office, which is another thing I can still do, even though the governor of California has decreed that all 40 million of us Californians must hereafter stay home with only a few essential exceptions, like taking a walk or standing six feet apart in line to get into a grocery store where they probably don’t have what you’re looking for anyway.

Writing letters is thus much favored as a daily event, as is walking to the mailbox, the post office, or even farther. Many stay-at-homers were walking the streets this morning with me, some with dogs, others with their babies. Walking outside on a morning like this was a thrilling way to see that the world is still outrageously beautiful and alive, the fruits ripe to bursting and spring flowers flush, the bleeding red hearts of the bougainvillea spilling everywhere. Strangers waved from across empty streets. Suddenly, we have so much in common.

Along the way I realized the benevolence, the genius and, yes, the pure common sense of the governor’s decree. I’ve been thinking of this virus as an invading force, an outside threat, and praying for the threat to pass. But there is no threat from outside. I am the threat, and I have to contain it. This is my responsibility, my duty as a human being among human beings. I alone can either spread it or stop it. The answer is in my hands.

I can do this, how about you?

Photo by Natalia Łyczko on Unsplash



  1. I so appreciate what you write
    Want to share this poem I saw
    Friend sent this
    Thought you would appreciate

    “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absense of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they has been healed.” – Kitty O’Meara

    Comment by Jane Bergquist — March 20, 2020 @ 5:13 pm

  2. Maybe this is just a metaphoric deep breath. A hard reset. An opportunity to slow down and come back home to ourselves. Yes, we can do this. I am trying to appreciate that there is plenty right here in front of me. I love writing letters too. It is a way to go somewhere without ever leaving my chair …  ?? ( Love that photo !)

    Comment by Bonnie R Nygren — March 20, 2020 @ 7:21 pm

  3. Good morning Maezen. I read your post on my phone, in the dark, before I turned to the headlines this morning and felt steadied and grateful for your kindred presence. I, too, have been writing letters by hand and walking, and wondering. The poem shared by your reader is now my own vision for our collective future — how wonderful to have an image. May we continue to support one another and to learn and heal together. Thank you for being there and for writing.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — March 21, 2020 @ 3:05 am

  4. Thank you, Maezen. Your words are always such comfort.I carry them with me. Making a list of the “things I carry”.

    Comment by Jennie — March 21, 2020 @ 5:21 am

  5. I mailed you a letter yesterday!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 21, 2020 @ 7:00 am

  6. I’m walking across faith traditions these days, soaking up the solace to steady myself in these times. “Compassionate retreating” has been a most lovely reframing of the decrees more and more of our planet’s people are now experiencing, this from the Abbey of the Arts in its Novena for Times of Unravelling.
    Thank you for yours. Much love and kindness.

    Comment by Katharine Weinmann — March 21, 2020 @ 11:29 am

  7. yes, thank you

    Comment by Kelly Salasin — March 21, 2020 @ 5:22 pm

  8. Yes I agree, I think part of this is a gift. An opportunity to shift our focus. What were we thinking when (over here) we denied nurses and docters an increase in pay? Now they risk their lives to save people. They risk their health and lives to stay with the people who are dying, who cannot have their family with them in their final hours. What price can you put on that?
    The air is knocked out of the financial system. Good. Companies too attached to poluting, cutting corners are left with nothing. People who equate their self worth with their possesions have a lot less self esteem.
    We can learn take a new kind of measure of who a person is. We can define a new measuring stick for ourselves and each other.
    A more human measure. A more real measure, one you cannot market or brand, one you cannot buy or pretend to be.

    Comment by Simone — March 23, 2020 @ 9:11 am

  9. Tip of the hat to all the processes, chemicals and miracles that enable us to write by hand or keyboard and read what others meant when they did.

    Comment by Bill — March 23, 2020 @ 12:25 pm

  10. The miracle of mind meeting mind.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 23, 2020 @ 8:26 pm

  11. Thank you for this—and your reader’s phrase: compassionate retreating. I like that so much more than social distancing. 🙂

    And when spring finally arrives in Colorado (snow again today), we will feel reborn.

    Comment by Deirdre O'Malley Keating — March 27, 2020 @ 6:49 am

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