For a few weeks now, I have been trying to write a blog series, “An Encouraging Word” for these stressful and anxious days with COVID 19. Each time, I find myself with sort of a writer’s block. Oh, I am writing LOTS of words! But they are mostly words of frustration, anxiety, sorrow and anger, not only from this pandemic but also from the reactions to this crisis.
Jim and I are very fortunate. For the most part, our lives remain pretty stable in these days of COVID 19. We are healthy, we have not lost loved ones, we trust that our retirement savings will recover, and we have our home and all that we need.
My anxiety comes from the uncertainty. Not knowing… when or if there will be a vaccine, when we will be free to be with our community and loved ones, when the largest part of the threat will be behind us. It comes from not being able to be with my elderly mom, not being able to hug my grandson and other family members, and from wondering if our long-planned family vacation will take place. It comes from my worry and sadness for those whose lives have been impacted much more than ours.
But my anxiety largely stems from what I have observed in my country during these recent months. A president who continues to divide and blame when we need unity and responsibility more than ever, who incites people to protest against governors and the necessary safety precautions in place, who withdraws from world organizations during a time when we especially need to work together for the good of all, and who is even now eliminating standards for climate care while the pandemic rages… protestors who feel their “right to work, worship, or gather” are more important than the health of everyone, whose actions actually delay a return to normalcy… hoarders who purchase foods and other supplies to resell for profit… and even an increase in gun sales.
The whole world is hurting. We would do well to unite with others as one generous community, all of us working to help, protect, share and survive together. But we allow our fears, our feelings of scarcity, and our need for self protection (often at the expense of others) to reign. To be honest, my anxiety also comes when I notice these same feelings rising up within me.
For those of us who are Fixers, we are additionally frustrated and anxious because we can’t fix this. We want to make the world better, help the suffering to end, and unite all people in love. But the road is quite broken right now, and there are no repairs readily available or significant enough to smooth this journey for everyone. This sense of futility can often lead to our inaction. We need to find a few ways we might be able to make a difference.
What can we do as we journey along this broken road?
~ First, we ask for help. We are not meant to journey all alone, we are not meant to fix the world by ourselves. We ask God to help us, the Spirit to guide us. We team with those who also want to make this road a better one. We are not meant to do this by ourselves. We simply cannot do this by ourselves.
~ We smooth the rough patches we encounter along our way. We do whatever we can to correct or repair the pothole before us, leaving the rest of the road for another day. We each fix what we can, one smaller part of the problem at a time.
~ We recognize that some potholes may actually benefit others, even if they slow our own progress. (I noticed a bird splashing in a pothole-turned-birdbath after a recent rainstorm.)
~ We help one another walk the rough terrain. If we cannot fix the road itself, we can help each other traverse it anyway. We can support, uphold, and lean on one another as we stumble on, together.
~ We find rest areas for our journey. We recognize when we need a break from the news; when we would benefit from a time of respite. We listen to an inspirational podcast, enjoy a walk in nature, watch a humorous movie, or read an interesting book. We sit quietly with a mug of tea or glass of wine. We call a friend, journal our thoughts, relax in a warm bath, work in the garden, or make our favorite recipes.
~ We take detours. Yes, our planned route has been abruptly halted. What other routes are we being invited to explore? Could they be new adventures of learning and discovery? What new beauty might we find?
~ We live as signposts of Christ. Walking with a peaceful demeanor, a joyful spirit, a gracious generosity, and a trusting countenance, we may serve as reassuring guides for others to follow.
~ We look around. The imperfect road is not the only thing on this journey. There is the beauty of creation- sunrises and sunsets, trees and flowers and grasses, streams and lakes and oceans, hills and valleys and fields, skies and clouds and stars. There is the love of family and friends and beloved pets. There is the joy of creativity through art, music, photography, writing, and other imaginative venues.
~ Most of all, we keep looking ahead. When we look down at the road before us, we see the cracks, holes and ruts. But if we look ahead, we see the grand and majestic vista appearing in the distance, waiting patiently for our arrival. This road is, and will always be, a broken one, but it will lead us to our final and glorious destination.
Keep walking together, dear friends.
And watch for An Encouraging Word in the days to come. 🙂