The holidays are behind us. There’s fresh snow on Mt. Jefferson. A white beret rests on Black Butte’s peak. The American flag snaps towards the west. Another storm on its way. Clear skies, bluest overhead, fade into pale grays. Memories from the last two weeks blow in on the breeze… reminders of hard-won time spent with loved ones. We are a pod. We have been tested. We have been careful. But is it enough?

A virus lives among us. It always has. It’s spread around. Hiding and waiting for an opportunity to strike. A round, living blob with red-tipped tentacles lurking on our skin, in the air and on handles we touch. Disarming. Too small to see.

There’s also a virus of distrust. Lodged deep in our hearts and brains ideas agitate. Truth is twisted into shapes and stories that defy logic. But we want to believe, so we twist along with the contorted phrases and words designed to confuse and slice us apart. Truth’s shadow side is cut into bite-sized pieces easily swallowed and forgotten until they begin to move through our bodies and find permanent homes in the crevices of our gut.

We become enemies. We see nothing but our conflicts. We consider violence. We understand civil war and families fighting each other — firing guns at those who share meals and holidays and ancestors. The bond is broken, sliced with a serrated knife designed to move easily and with stealthy precision. Love dies. Replaced with disdain, distrust and a loss of hope. We are victims of our predecessor’s actions — and our own. We are paying karmic debts that hurt all beings born and unborn. The gift of this planet is forgotten.

Why are we so angry? So willing to believe lies? Still searching for the doctor that tells us what we want to hear: “You’re not sick. What you are doing isn’t bad for you. It’s not your fault. Just take this pill. Cut this out and you’ll live forever.”

The truth hurts. Demands something from us. The truth heals. Invites us to join hands. Looking clean, speaking well, rolling in a fancy car isn’t enough.

We’ve lost the feel of the earth between our toes. When was the last time you felt rain on a naked face, back and chest? The wind is shifting. It’s tired of waiting. It’s ready to blow and anything not deeply rooted will be taken and flung like tumbleweeds across the open spaces. The wind, the sun, the rain, the snow, the stones will prevail. They are our family too. Disconnection leaves you vulnerable. Unable to dance together. Love and live together.

The wind is blowing. There are opportunities to capture its power and move in a healing direction. Reach each other. Stand on common ground. See each other. Hear each other. Harness love’s power. There’s a pull towards hate.

Choose love. Compassion. Deep discernment that casts off assumptions and falsehoods. Every day, every moment there’s new water rushing past. We never stand in the same river twice. There’s hope. There’s renewal and opportunity to chart a new course. Try. Turn away from that clenching feeling activated by disagreements.

I will speak up while I lay down preconceived notions about the ones I don’t understand. I will use my stubborn nature and ignorant hope to overcome the odds, and someday embrace even those who wish me nothing but harm. We share blood, we share ground, we share breath — what else can we share?