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BREATHING ROOM: Who knew it would be like this?

BREATHING ROOM: Who knew it would be like this?

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Who knew?

Who knew that a year ago this week, our lives would utterly alter in practice, safety, health and well-being?

The leaders of infectious disease studies, and some of the wise watchers, saw it looming in the distance like a wicked storm sweeping over the mountains. When the skies go from blue and still to raging and steely grey, even we who are not intimately connected with the earth’s cycles become aware of great change.

World-change. It is the stuff of apocalypse, of revelation, of unveiling the unseen. We know not the wind, save for its breath against our faces, for hearing its sounds, or witnessing its impact on the landscape around us. Hiddenness breaks open. Sinkholes in Croatia or Plasterco emerge, revealing the instability of that which we perceived was sure.

Who knew our homes would become the center of our living once more? Those who faced losses of livelihood and loved ones would also encounter the prospects of losing not just shelter but home. A sense of home.

Who knew our patterns could be so radically disrupted? That we could encounter such immense dislocation from our spiritual and social practices? Who knew that we would be faced with redefining work, living, friendship and home.

Over the last year, I have considered home deeply. Where is it? What is it? Who is it? How does it feel? Smell? Taste?

These are questions greater than the space we inhabit. Although the spaces in which we live and move and have our being are key to who we are and to revealing whose we are. What of the earth on which we dwell? The spiritual geographies that shape our identities? The relational landscapes?

I would not be who I am if not for all three forks of the Holston River, the rolling hills and soft mountains, the karst topography of Meadowview and Glade Spring, as well as the creekside drives on the way to Saltville.

Who knew that the last year could teach us so intimately about home — what it is and is not; what it has become and has not?

Home used to be limited to these mountains and valleys because this is where my people dwelled. This is the land from which I was birthed and am still being delivered.

Generative work is happening here. Yet, with each passing life — another cousin, another love, another friend — that sense of dislocation grows. That sense of being birthed for something or someone else grows.

Home, I am struck, anchors in the connections through which I find myself most alive. Home is in the skin and heart and spirit and soul of those who allow me to help them flourish and seek my own flourishing.

Who knew a year ago that life could begin to shift so radically that we would be compelled to ask such aching questions? To be led to such deeper truths? If we had but eyes to seek and ears to listen?

Longing to breathe deeply and to walk with others as they seek to meet their longings, C. A. Rollins writes and invites you to reflect with her at

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