Having read many pieces written in the past weeks about what is needed to maintain one’s sanity and balance in these perilous and challenging times that we are living now, it seems to me that what is needed is something more than maintaining our balance and well-being. It is also about sustaining and nurturing our relationship with each other and with the Earth and by its very implication then, that relationship between Heaven and Earth (Godself) – caring for oneself and others.
Signposts for the journey
In this post I am sharing 13 elements (rather signposts) for this journey of care. I read these just this morning, written by Alexander Levering Kern who is a Quaker chaplain, interfaith leader, poet, writer, and Executive Director of the Centre for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service at Northeastern University in Boston. See HERE
Their simple ‘do-ability’ appeals as does the idea that the centre of the focus and the outcomes is much wider than the individual. I have a sense that caring for ourselves and others in this way is at once a profound spiritual and temporal exercise that grows our hearts to love more those we come into contact with, albeit virtually for now. It may also help us to ground ourselves in calm and manage in a more positive way the daily challenges we come up against.
So here are Alex’s spiritual tools and tips to help care for oneself and others, which he advises you to share as you wish, taking what you need and leaving the rest.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe some more. Take time in your day, at any moment, to take ten deep even breaths. Carve out 5-10 minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness or contemplative prayer. Start here, now, wherever you are.
Ground yourself in the present moment. Focus your awareness on something real, enduring, or beautiful in your surroundings. Look up often. Discover the wonder and awe that is already here.
Acknowledge your fears, anxieties, concerns. Offer them up in prayer, if you pray. Write them in your journal. Share them with others. Feel what you feel, honour it, and know that it is not the final word.
Remember you are not alone. Ever. You are surrounded by care and support. Reach out.
Create and sustain community. Show up for one another. Listen compassionately. Practice empathy. Even while avoiding “close physical contact,” message the people you care about. Stand with those most vulnerable and those who suffer the brunt of prejudice and fear. Check in on folks. Call your mother, father, guardian, mentor, little sibling, long lost friend.
Unplug, judiciously. While staying aware of developments, do not let the Corona-chaos govern you, but forgive yourself when and if it does.
Practice kindness. There is a temptation in health scares to view others as potential threats. Remember we are in this together. While practicing health guidelines and appropriate caution, remember to engage one another. Smile when you can. Bring good deeds and good energy into our world.
Stay healthy through sleep, diet, exercise. See healing and wellness holistically – mind, body, and spirit.
Make art. Discover, imagine, engage your hopes and fears, the beauty and ugliness of our world. Write, paint, sing, dance, soar.
Practice gratitude. In the face of crises, make note of the things for which you are grateful: your breath, the particular shade of the sky at dusk – or dawn. The colour blue, the colour green, the gifts and strengths you have, other people in your life, the ability to laugh. A pet.
Connect with your spiritual, religious, humanist, cultural, or other communities. Find strength and solace and power in traditions, texts, rituals, practices, holy times and seasons.
Pray as you are able, silently, through song, in readings, through ancestors. Remember the long view of history, the rhythms and cycles of nature, the invisible threads that connect us all.
Practice hope. Trust in the future and our power to endure and persist, to live fully into the goodness that awaits.
God of the one and God of the whole,
be with those who are working from home today
and those whose work keeps them from home.
Be with those who won’t go beyond the front porch,
and those who stay on the front line.
Be with those who must choose between
doing a job they know they can do
and being the parent only they can be.
May we each in our private worry
hear your universal call
to come, lay down heavy burdens,
and find a welcome rest.
And then with our burdens lightened,
may we help to hold the whole.
Note: The Corrymeela Community have been sharing a daily prayer as a way of building spiritual resiliency, offering these prayers for community in a time of pandemic. This prayer was shared on 26th March – see website link HERE