I’m seeing a lot of this kind of thing with email sign-offs lately, phone calls. “Take care,” we now say more often to one another. And perhaps for the first time, we mean it.

There’s a big movement happening, and it seems to me it is coming from the earth up. I can feel it under my feet on my daily walks, which I now commit to in taking care of myself. It’s been a long time since I regularly walked for my health. I’ve got a little more time for it now with work going remote, a little more flexibility. But that isn’t the real reason.

You see, I’ve had time before. I didn’t work for several months when I first moved to Portland a few years back. I had hours, days, weeks then, and I’m a little mournful to admit I sacrificed a lot of them to activities that were the opposite of care. Back then I was riding a different wave.

Today we’ve got care in the air. It’s as contagious as this virus—more so. People are caring for one another despite all the news we read about how poorly we’ve handled this situation. We have handled it poorly, but perhaps we can also be a little kind to ourselves on that front. Show ourselves a little care in that respect as well. Most of us didn’t know any better. We heard fragments of news and then there was the avalanche that happened, as avalanches do, in a matter of moments.

Now people are banging on pots and cheering for our medical workers from their front steps. They are raising money all across the world to help their struggling neighbors, local businesses. They are understanding in a whole new way how irreducibly interconnected we are.

We are connected through our economy, yes. We know this now in a very real way thanks to experience’s sudden hand. But our interconnectedness runs much deeper than fiscal concerns. It runs through our very breath. Through the earth we all tread.

“People are softer,” I heard on a recent work conference call when we broke from talk of interest rates and recovery projections to comment on the uniquely human what’s what of right now.

“Yes!” someone else replied. “Yes, they are!”

When we are softer we allow more in. We feel more and are more porous. We are gentler with one another, with ourselves. With the nut we have all been trying so earnestly to crack.

The conference call ended with someone asking the facilitator to take us out on a positive note. Some resounding words of, if not reassurance, surprising difference we could take with us into our days. The facilitator obliged. In fact, he offered us a list.

The air is cleaner, he said. My two hour commute is nonexistent. The nation feels somehow newly united. There is also a new creativity where before there was complacency. And if he were to take a flight in the near future, he said, any person rushing past him might not be so blind as to clip his shoulder, jogging the coffee cup from his hands.

What if life together was never a hard shelled nut we were trying to crack? What if it was an acorn? Acorns grow without being cracked open. All it takes is a little water and some good soil. An oak doesn’t develop overnight, of course, but an oak seedling will come up in about four weeks (or about the time it takes to wrap up a quarantine).

We are growing a tree, I think. All of us. Together. The acorns have been here all along, though we’ve been looking to the tougher, bigger structures for guidance. For a model of how to be, how to sprout, how to live.

Acorns need softness. Nourishment. They need some undisturbed rich soil for about a month so they can ease from their casing and take root, push for the sun.

What if Mother Earth had the secret formula all along, a formula that could be extrapolated to any aim—healthcare, social justice, equity, poverty, education, human rights?

To the simple aim of being human in this place we call world.