25 March 2020
I found myself standing in the grocery store last week staring down at a bucket of purple tulips reduced to half-price. I was in a pensive mood contemplating the impact of what was happening in the world due to the pandemic. The grocery store felt quite surreal with its half-empty shelves and people silently pushing their grocery carts around while rock music played in the background. Some people wore gloves to protect themselves from contamination on the handles. Others had pulled down their shirt sleeves to cover their hands before they pulled the cart out of the queue. One woman was fortunate enough to have wipes in her purse. She was wiping her cart handle off before she touched it. People lined up at the cash register were all carefully spaced out six feet apart, mindful of public health requests for social distancing while they stood in the checkout lines.
Purple tulips are symbolic for me as a result of a little incident I had with my kindergarten teacher when I was five. Easter weekend was coming up and we were to do an art project for our mothers. Our teacher, Mrs. Horn, handed each child a sheet of paper with the black outline of tulips on it with the instructions that we were to “colour the tulips any colour we wanted.” I promptly picked up a crayon and enthusiastically coloured all the tulips on my sheet a deep purple. As I happily coloured in my tulips I remember suddenly feeling a looming presence behind me. It was my teacher, Mrs. Horn, looking down over my shoulder. She leaned over me and picked up my colouring. She looked at me she said, “There is no such thing as purple tulips.” That was confusing. I had seen them I told her. Nevertheless, my protests fell on deaf ears and she promptly tore my paper in half. As she laid a fresh sheet of paper in front of me I was told to colour the flowers the same way as the other children did. Fuming and shamed I resolved to prove to her that purple tulips did in fact exist. The next morning, I got up early and walked over to our neighbour’s garden and picked every one of her purple tulips. I arrived at school bearing my purple bouquet and proudly laid it on Mrs. Horn’s desk. As she looked down at the flowers her face turned a deep red. All the kids in my class started to laugh. In the end it didn’t work out well for me, but I was proud none the less.
That memory of the purple tulips from my childhood ignited my defiance, but in a good way. I thought I am not going to let this pandemic bring me down. I am going to be spending this period of social distancing having some fun. I picked up a couple of bouquets of purple tulips for the dinner table. When I got home I threw open all of our windows and aired out the house. My husband and I resolved to make the best of things during this time period of isolation. We are reading books and playing music. We are reading stories to our grandbabies over Skype, much to their delight – bless them. We are working in the garden and going out for walks. That’s when I noticed that the birds are back in our garden.
At first you would think that this is a perfectly normal event given that it is Spring except for the fact that for the last few years the wildlife in our garden has been dwindling, almost to the point of silence.
Fifteen years ago, we converted our back garden to all native plants and trees to encourage more wildlife and be more environmentally friendly. Within a few years of completing the conversion to the landscape we were delighted to have all manner of birds visiting the feeders and nesting in the trees. There was a perfusion of brave rabbits who would stare at us as they chowed down on the clover growing on the lawn as we drank our afternoon tea. A groundhog took up residence near the compost pile. We had visits from skunks, the odd raccoon and even a fox late one night. A hummingbird also started to show up in the afternoon as we sat out on our back deck enjoying the fruits of our labours. It was magical.
Then a few years ago it all changed. It was subtle at first but then before we knew it our beautiful backyard garden became almost silent with only a few morning doves, a robin and one cardinal who became obsessed with our picture window. He would repeatedly bang into it, finally knocking himself out at one point despite all of our best efforts to ward him off. Even though we dutifully filled the feeders with seed and kept the bird bath full there was little happening in our garden sanctuary, except for several very fat and sassy squirrels. I was getting worried. “Why had our garden paradise become so quiet?” I kept saying to myself.
Then the pandemic happened, and it has forced the world to slow down. Now stories abound on social media about how people and their communities are showing kindness towards each other. Nature is responding. Pollution is down. Rivers are starting to clear. We are taking more time and being more conscious. Amidst all of this tragedy we are being reminded of our humanity, our fragility and what an impact we have had on the planet. It feels like a universal awakening of how to be mindful and loving of our fellow man, our dear planet and to find it in our own hearts to once again be tender with our own inner well-being.
I believe that in this very emotional and trying time of our lives that we are witnessing a shift in world consciousness. We are all a part of this shift. We are more than ever; being shown how we are all connected. How we interact does make an impact on our inner well-being, our community and our environment. Let’s make sure we get it right this time.
Atherton Drenth is a clairvoyant energy intuitive and the author of Intuitive Dance. Building, Protecting & Clearing Your Energy, (Llewellyn Worldwide) and Following Body Wisdom. Atherton also appears in the documentary, Voyage to Betterment as one of 12 experts along with other internationally renowned physicians, researchers, and pioneers in the fields of consciousness research and spirituality.