Retreat (v.): To step back, or be forced back. To withdraw.
Retreat (n.): A place or time set aside for reflection and focus.
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My strong, vital, handsome Dad, Jagdish Kallappa Jirge, passed away on Friday. This is the greatest sorrow of my life, and also a moment of peace and pride. My Dad has been healthy and strong forever, having been a daily exerciser. He had literally never been in a hospital before. But he contacted pneumonia, which combined catastrophically with a series of strokes. His passing was peaceful, and he never was aware or felt fear or pain. There are many stories to tell about the last few days, but right now, they live quietly in me. Just like he will.
It’s four months since my Dad died. The opaque darkness which had enveloped me now has contours.
When I was a kid, my parents and I would often watch nature shows after dinner. National Geographic, Wild Kingdom, Nova, Jacques Cousteau. I remember one program in particular, about life in the deep ocean. Scientists wanted to observe what lived in the depths of the ocean trenches. To do so, they had to descend in a tiny submarine designed to withstand the immense pressure.
Down, down they sank into the frigid darkness where no sunlight penetrated and the pressure could crush skulls. What could possibly survive in such an environment? A wondrous array of creatures, it turns out. Bioluminescent jellies, glowing octopuses, grotesque fish with eyeballs visible in their transparent heads. The scientists captured some of these creatures in pressurized containers for study, but when brought up to the surface, the lack of pressure caused the animals’ delicate bodies to fly apart.
In this week’s podcast, Christine and I share our thoughts about how to move through this supremely painful and important moment in American history: the collision of the pandemic with the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Each of us must wrestle with our personal losses and fears against this backdrop.
In the episode, I announced that I’m taking a summer break from co-hosting to care for my mom, my family, and myself. (Listen to the episode for details.)
I need to go deep enough to observe what might otherwise fly apart if hauled to the blinding, turbulent surface.
My eyes need time to adjust, and I must trust them to see.
Retreat is prelude to surrender, and what is surrender, if not trust?