I am writing this in the early morning hours on Saturday, March 21, 2020, where, just a few hours ago at 5pm, the Governor of Illinois issued a “stay at home” order. As I look back on the past week and what lies ahead, here is where I have landed:
- Stay Centered. In the midst of this pandemic, many people will be anxious. Our role as spiritual care givers and faith leaders is it be less anxious. Notice I didn’t say non-anxious. I don’t believe there is such a thing as non-anxious. If we can take deep breaths, have a quick breath prayer like:
- “Lord, have mercy.”
- “Here I am.”
- “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
- “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
- “When I am afraid, I will trust you.”
- Simply being silent and listening to our breath as it goes in and out counting each breath.
We can stay focused on our goal – to be there for others rather than letting worry and anxiety take over.
- Try and stay curious at the Edge of the Unknown. None of us has lived through a time like this. Many people are comparing this to the Spanish Flu of 1918. In speaking with many chaplains the past few weeks, most of whom have been at this far longer than me, they haven’t seen anything like this. If we can stay centered and curious I believe it will allow something new to emerge – creativity. I saw a joke the other day in the NY Times when many people were wondering what the “Z” in Generation Z stood for, and many people believe we are just now figuring it out . . . Zoom . . . the videoconferencing software.
- Find new ways to connect. Perhaps your preferred way of doing spiritual care is to meet people face-to-face like me. There are still other ways of offering care: making phone calls, Facetime, Skype, mailing a card or a note. Just because we are in a time of social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t check in on people, especially those that might be isolated right now – people in a nursing home that are quarantined, members of your faith community that are homebound, etc.
- Keep up your own spiritual practice. In anxious times, it is easy to say “I’m too busy” to keep up our own spiritual disciplines. The best way to prevent burnout is to continue to fill your well with water to stay in touch with your calling and vocation and a spiritual caregiver. As an Episcopal priest, one way I fill my well each morning is by listening to a Podcast “Pray-as-you-Go” put out by the Society of Jesus in Britain. I start my commute to work by listening to this podcast followed by “The Daily” by the NY Times so I am getting the most up-to-date news and information from a trusted source rather than social media where stories might not be vetted and investigated.
This has been my list of ways to get through this pandemic and stay centered in my role as a spiritual caregiver. As a way to stay in community with each other and to continue this conversation, please join us at one of the following videoconferences in Central Daylight Time:
- Thursday, March 26, 9-10:30am
- Monday, March 30, 10-11:30am
- Wednesday, April 1, 10-11:30am (Group for Clergy)
- Thursday, April 2, 10-11:30am
Contact Kim at Bishop Anderson House to register for a time slot.
Until then, take good care,