• Stacey Johnson posted a status
    Every year, at various points, I find myself asking this question of my classes and myself: "What does it mean to have integrity?" And an answer invariably comes, proclaiming something like this: "It's when you do the right thing when no one's looking." We live in the age of surveillance, the age of the machine, the time of the non-stop treadmill. Except that suddenly, this week, it's stopped. Two weeks ago, it seemed like I and everyone I knew was desperate — for time, for a thing we could not name, for a moment to breathe and safely step off the machine without risking loss of life and limb in its relentless gears. Then practices were cancelled. Then playoff games. Then church and tournaments, then public readings, and then school. Next came gatherings of 250 or more, and then it was fifty and then it was ten and then in some areas it was none. And here I am reminded of lines from David Wagoner’s poem “Lost”: “Here is the place where you are, and you must treat it like a powerful stranger.” And here we are, so many of us, and so suddenly, in the face of a powerful stranger. When we were running to keep up with the machine of its relentless gears we were nowhere, panting. Then it stopped. Now we send messages and make calls: “Hello?”; “Are you there?”; “I think of you”; “I miss you”; and “Love.” I wonder about love in the times of Corona. This is how I think of the way you were difficult when you were so in my face, and this is how I miss the beauty of your thorns. Here I trace your face, I hold your heart, I meet you even when we remain out of reach; this is how you look now, stranger, like another trapped in strangeness, and I look up when I see you coming and unless I see fear in your eyes at my approach I will likely not move exactly six feet away. It’s certainly less if you seem unafraid and we pass in opposite directions, meeting eyes and saying hello.

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