Search

Bios + Zoë


Standing amongst the mullein and fireweed, both almost as tall as eight year old me, I was decidedly not okay. I had just been flipping through an old issue of National Geographic and had learned that our sun would one day go supernova, destroying all life on earth. My young mind had uneasily come to terms with the reality of my own eventual death, but the death of all my progeny to come? Humanity as a whole? All the natural world? As I stared out over Lake Okanagan from the dusty gravel pit a few short meters from my backyard, my heart raced and I was filled with impending doom as my mind wrestled this new factoid.


I think what I was brushing up against, but didn't have the words for then was the ancient Greek concept of Bios and Zoë. In her delicious book, "Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection", Jessica Prentice explains that "Bios" is our individual life and "Zoë" life as our common thread, that source of divine spark that links us to our ancestors and endures well beyond our own lifetime.

Over the past few months, as the world has shut down and waited in fear, certainly a time that will be recorded in the history books with its repercussions not fully understood for years to come, Jessica's passages on this topic have repeated in my mind:

"A core understanding of this adult knowledge lies at the heart of many spiritual practices and religious traditions worldwide. Death extinguishes a particular life, of course, but it doesn't extinguish Life. Life endures and transcends death.
When you see everything around you (animal, vegetable, mineral) as imbued with Spirit, as alive and sentient, as carrying with it a crucial part of the Whole; when you view all life as inextricably interconnected by a thread, a spark, of something Divine; you understand that that great beautiful Creation involves death and decay just as certainly as it involves birth and resurrection."

As much as medicine would like to promise me that I, and those I love, will never become ill, will never die, I know this too, is an eventual part of what it means to be alive. Life makes no guarantees. And what is a life, in the individual sense of the word, Bios, spent away from the beauty of nature? Divided from those we love; due to fear or perceived hatred, labels and stereotyping? Not able to freely move about and enjoy the activities that once brought a smile to our face? Wind in my hair and sun on my face? Surely, a wasted opportunity of our own one precious life.


I take a certain comfort in those words and this idea. Have you found passages, quotes or scripture that have comforted you during this time of great unknown? If so, I'd love to read them.