Our community is coming to the end of week 3 of limiting our social interactions to our immediate nuclear families and staying home. During this time of change many of us may feel a bit in shock. Only a month ago life seemed pretty much to be flowing along as usual, and now many of our daily lives are completely different. Those of us staying home are starting to feel the walls close in, and those of us still out working in the world can't help but feel the eerie changes: people in masks, empty stores and restaurants, a sense of fear in the air and the very real stress of those of us on the front lines.
Aside from shock we may be feeling a mix of other emotions. Many of are grieving. We are witnessing loss all around us. There is the very real loss of our family and community members succumbing to illness and the grief from losing loved ones. We will be mourning the causalities of this virus for a long time to come.
For many of us, we are also navigating the grief from such drastic changes in such a short period of time. We feel grief for the loss of our daily lives and moments big and small. Loss of graduations and and weddings, birthdays and vacations. The loss of bumping into friends at the park, our daily commute with latte, staff meetings, music classes, library visits, family parties and so much more.
Many of us are afraid for our families, our parents and grandparents, and for the unknown that the future holds. We fear interactions with anyone or going out into the world. We fear getting sick.
We also feel guilt. Guilt for having what we need and access to food and care when so many are without and suffering right now. Guilt for not being able to do more for those quarantined alone. Guilt for being safe in our homes while armies of healthcare workers go to work without protection. Guilt for the effort and stress placed on the tireless delivery drivers, grocery store workers, utility workers, cleaners, postal workers and many others working overtime to keep our country running.
With all of these weighty emotions, it can be hard to feel a sense of gratitude for what we do have. Feeling grateful can help to relieve our stress and bring us into the present. It is a good practice and an important spiritual exercise to give thanks for our blessings and to stir a sense of gratitude within our hearts, especially at a time such as this.
Focusing on being grateful for what we have in our lives can help us to manage the feelings of fear, stress, and grief we may be feeling. Giving thanks for what we have and what is before us can help us to grow in strength, faith, and acceptance. It is very hard to understand why we are going through this right now, how this virus will affect each of us will play out over the next weeks, months, years, and decades. We will make our meaning over time, but in the here and now, we can understand what is before us and be grateful for the opportunity to love, grow, share, give, and suffer together.
Take a minute to sit and reflect. What am I grateful for right now? It has helped me to get some perspective by starting with the basics: food, water, shelter, health, medical care, loved ones. I am also so grateful for social media and connectivity right now. While I don't love being connected all the time or living life on a screen, I am so grateful that we have instant communication and I can call my mother and hear her voice rather than waiting weeks for a letter that might never make it.
Each day, we can find a few small things about our current situation for which we are grateful.
We can be active about it, write it down, share it with a friend, and say it in our prayers. Turn our face to heaven and thank God for the gift of life and all that we are given on our journey.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving: Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Click below for the audio.
Source. God is love and the source of all that is good. The bounty and the beauty of nature, the light in our souls, and the beginnings of dreams all flow from this goodness.