This pandemic has brought dramatic changes to society. None more so than social distancing. Experts tell us that staying at home and keeping apart 6 feet is essential for flattening the curve of the pandemic. I have no doubt that they are correct. Like you I’m doing my part.
How then can we stay emotionally connected? One elderly lady who walks in our neighborhood noticed that people were not only practicing social distancing but also avoiding eye contact, as if fearful of the other. This lady lives alone and walking is one of the few opportunities she has to connect.
What then can we do? Here are some suggestions, based on my own practice or what others have done that inspire me:
- On your walks, from the proper distance, wave or say hello.
- Greet your neighbors when you see them outside or text or call to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Stay connected with friends and family using the many social platforms available (ZOOM, SKYPE, Facetime etc.). These are uncertain and anxious times and it is a gift to one another to know that we are not in this alone.
- Use snail mail to send a note of encouragement. Taking the time to send a card with a personal note is ‘old school’ but carries good emotional weight. This is important too for those not on social media to let them know they are remembered.
- Cultivate your spiritual life. Draw from your faith tradition or create rituals that allow you to feel connected to the needs and pain around us. This is particularly counter cultural. Our culture has reinforced the illusion that we are in control, captains of our own destiny. COVID-19 has shown that illusion for what it is. What is REAL, is this: We are all fragile and live in a time of great uncertainty that in many ways is outside of our control. What is real, is our need and moral calling, to take care of one another. That our meaning is found in how we foster community. Community of the heart.
- Here’s a ritual I find helpful: I carve out 10 – 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to be quiet. (For those with kids at home, find the quiet when you can). Oftentimes, I’ll scan my local newspaper or news feed to be aware of some of the needs locally and globally. Then, in my time of silence I sit with my hands in the shape of a bowl. Slowly I place each of my worries and concerns in that bowl. In doing so I acknowledge the need in my own life and in the world. Then, I ask God to ‘be with those dealing with a particular situation, to ask God to bless those involved each according to their need’. I often pray for those in the medical field who risk so much for the well being of others. In doing so two things happen: I enter into community with others like me who are fragile. And, I enter into communion with that loving Mystery people call God/Spirit/Creator. Afterwards I feel more centered and more emotionally connected.
I want my elderly neighbor and all of us to know, that we aren’t alone. That we belong to one another. Perhaps one positive change that will come out of this pandemic is a reminder that we belong to one another and we belong spiritually to the Source of all that is good, lasting and true.
Be well. Know that I have your back and I trust you have mine.