“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Rumi
As we walk in the midst of this new world of pandemic reality we are reminded day after day about our need, more than ever, to be in community with each other and to be present for each other in good times and in bad. Self-isolation, looking at our devices and listening to the news often causes us to fear and be anxious about something that we cannot see or feel but that we know can harm us and our loved ones.
It is normal to respond to these fears with sadness and anger but it is also an opportunity to practice ways of coming together, to practice our values of compassion and community spirit, to be the kind of people our world needs right now. The pandemic is an amazing unifier. So many people have come together within our organizations and neighbourhoods to support, cook, call, and deliver needed groceries and meals to many who are isolated and unable to leave their homes.
All of us have needed to adapt to a new reality of not seeing friends, family; and to the new worries about our health, income, jobs. We may feel impatient with the necessary restrictions on our movement and connections. We want our lives to get back to normal in whichever way “normal” applies to us. It is understandable to feel angry with those who might demonstrate their own impatience by ignoring masking or social distancing recommendations, or directing anger and aggression towards us.
When thinking about this I am mindful of the writing of Victor Frankl, Auschwitz holocaust survivor. In “Man’s Search for Meaning” Frankl describes how he used meditation to mentally survive the concentration camp. He notes that everything can be taken from us except for one thing … the last of the human freedoms … the ability to choose one’s attitude at any given time and in any given circumstance.
He says it’s okay to feel dark, confused and impatient but an attitude of strength and generosity can arise from this. This is one of those times when we can acknowledge our shadows. Unless we accept the darkness we can’t find the light.
Frankl reminds us that it doesn’t really matter what we expect from life but what life expects from us. His writing speaks to the need to expand our circles, to reach out to people who might test us and to step up to help those who are disproportionately impacted. It’s about choosing our attitude to reinforce the light in us all.