Featured Vital Signs

Spiritual Practices for a Season of Pandemic

By now, most of us have developed new routines as we’ve adapted to Covid19 (kicking and screaming on occasion!). Our lifestyles were suddenly constricted, contorted, and crunched. Our outlooks and attitudes have been turned, twisted, and transformed. We have adopted procedures, plans, patterns, and practices, often unwillingly. Yet, here we are in “a whole new world!” Our lives are “rebooted” and rearranged. BUT we are survivors. We have adapted. We are changed. This is no small thing! So congrats on making it this far! Scripture reminds us often that God does not abandon us whatever our situation may become. God is faithful. Our job is to notice that, let it soak in, and yes, rejoice. “In all things give thanks.”

Like those going through the “Five Stages of Grief,” each of us has experienced loss. Each of us has been in denial as we have wrestled with new realities thrust upon us.  We have felt both isolated and confined and have responded with anger. We are both confused and motivated as we have bargained for “the good ol’ days.” We have felt overwhelmed and depressed by a relentless virus.  And on our better days, we have adapted successfully enough to reach a level of acceptance over our very real losses.

Our journeys through our wildernesses of uncertainty and pain are not “one and done.” We continue to re-experience the turmoil of multiple feelings and realities over and over again.  We are going through real loss and definite uncertainty and we are working hard to find a new way that reassures us, grounds us, and gives us peace.

Indeed, we have learned some things during this sojourn strained with sadness. We have reached out to others beyond our confinement. We have learned new skills from toys to tech and new placeholding activities from hobbies to habits.  We have also reached deep. We are acutely aware of that many of us still struggle with questions of disbelief (“How could this happen?”) and outrage that we are still struggling to find a way out of this morass. We continue to deal with more than we wish we had to while being amazed that we are enduring more than we thought we could.

Here are four “spiritual practices” that you may find beneficial as we continue to explore our new lifestyles while still feeling the sting of grief and loss.

  1. Breathe. Yes, this is obvious. We are fortunate that God has made this task automatic! The Psalmist invites us to “be still and know that I am God.” In our busyness and even occasional panic, it is critical to remove ourselves emotionally from the trauma at hand (at an appropriate time). Attend to your breath. Sit up tall, breathe in, focus on the “ruah” (Hebrew) breath of God entering you, filling you, giving you life-anew. Breath in and give thanks. Breath in and give thanks. Repeat for a long moment. (You may create your own mantra to say during each breath-cycle of in and out – maybe a new one each time – “Thank you, Holy Spirit.” Or “Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever.”)
  2. Get outdoors. Look and see. Take it in. Be in wonder at the magnificence of God’s creation: clouds, petals, insects… Move about if you are able. Soak it in with a grateful heart. Breathe in the air that gives life to all creation. And be thankful.
  3. Attend to the Word. Ponder a verse or two of Scripture with this thought: “What is God inviting me to know, feel, remember today?” Be with the Living Word that is God’s gift to you at this moment.
  4. Set aside a particular Holy Place in your home. Create a space that will be your regular place to be with God. Consider a chair, a candle, a chime or bell, music, artwork – anything that can transport you out of your routine for a moment in time. Be in your Holy Space regularly. Be. Let it Be. Be.

Self-care is critical during times of stress. We can thank God that we have made it thus far, even as we remember and pray for those who struggle. Like the Hebrews in the wilderness, we are making it up as we go along. And remember, you are not alone. We make this journey with companions. So, as you look and listen for God’s guidance day by day, share with a friend how you are making your way and share kindness.

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