For the last few years I have noticed words showing up in my life to give me direction. Last year it was the word “rest.” The need for rest kept showing up over and over as I struggled to heed them rather than push through to the point of complete exhaustion.
This year the word that keeps showing up over and over is “be” — as opposed to “do.” Brought up to believe we change the world by doing I am now learning that we really change the world by being.
So join me this month as we explore this little word, so packed full of meaning —
By the way, the photo of “A Little Blue” girl on this page is a photo of one of Genie’s handsewn wall hanging fabric art pieces. You can see more of Genie’s work by clicking this link to view her art collection in our art gallery. Many of the items are for sale if you see something you want for your office or home. Visit now. (Proceeds from sales are used to cover the costs of maintaining this spiritual service.)
I know there are people who don’t like talking about the weather. They consider it shallow, trivial, a waste of time. But I will talk about the weather any day.
Why? Because two (or more) people are actually talking about something. And that’s where true communication starts: by talking about something. Starting out with the deep stuff can be threatening, so we start our talking about the weather, or something else seemingly simple. I sometimes get to know new people by talking to their dog first. If you pass the sniff test that opens a lot of doors with humans.
Once you begin talking, you might start talking about more than the weather. Before you know it relationships might begin to develop.
So next time someone greets you with a comment about the weather don’t ignore them, groan or give a slight wave. Start talking. There’s no telling where that cloudy conversation might take you.
We know that many are still dealing with the virus and we will be living with the aftermath of this for some time to come. The immensity of the loss of life, jobs, homes, and financial security has not quite hit most of us yet. There will be much grieving for some time . But today I want to talk about what we have learned from this international crisis.
We all know some people have spent this forced “time out” being angry, frightened, bored, hoarding food and supplies, or even profiting from the misfortune of others. Who will ever forget the empty store shelves and the “toilet paper crisis?”
But others have been enjoying the chance to rest, decompress and spend more time with family, learning new information and skills, or just taking the time to do those things at home they never had time for. Some have even used this time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
People have prayed, meditated, forgiven, and asked for forgiveness. We have discovered new ways to come together and still reach out to others in spite of “social distancing.”
Authorities tell us the virus has temporarily reached a peak, but that it’s not over and will return. The government tells us we must return to work for the economic well being of all, as long as we do so with certain precautions.
My hope is that in the days to come we will not just go back to “business as usual.” Instead, let’s learn important truths from this experience — both good and bad. I hope we will come out of this situation better people who have taken the time to work on ourselves while also finding new ways to help and connect to others and are ready to come together to create a world that works for all.
As I close this month I want to leave you with a few questions: What has changed for you? What have you learned? How will your life be different? What do you want to see continue when we are past the crisis? Let’s talk!
We are returning to our regular blog posts, but I will relate them to what is going on in our world as appropriate. Tomorrow we will begin a month of posts on communication. How does this relate to the circumstances we are currently living through?
So, be safe as we enter into May. Please make your comments on these posts and quotes and let’s start a conversation.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
[c]—Psalm 46:1-3 The Bible, NIV, accessed through Bible Gateway.com
The COVID pandemic has certainly shown us how quickly our world can be turned upside down, hasn’t it? Things change from week to week, day to day and sometimes hour to hour. I watched as churches announced online on Friday that they would still be holding services only to find themselves scrambling on Saturday to keep the flock together and informed as they were closing their facilities to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The uncertainty has brought out the best and the worst of us all. We have seen everything from people hoarding toilet paper and fighting over hand sanitizer to people looking for ways to reach out to elderly friends and family. We have seen churches activating phone trees to keep in contact with members and pastors taking their ministries totally online, speaking to a camera instead of a congregation. We have also seen reactions from the extreme of fear-mongering to saying there is no danger and encouraging people to behave irresponsibly.
It is perfectly normal to be afraid in times like these. I am not even going to pretend that I don’t have my moments of fear for myself. I also have concern for others in my senior community, many with compromised immune systems. But I know I cannot let that fear consume me.
Believe me, it is not easy; but this is a time I have to continue my spiritual practice and trust God. As someone who always has to be doing and helping others, I also have to ask, “What is mine to do? ” — right now, in this situation.
This time of uncertainty is also a time of great opportunity. If we will use it, many of us will now have the chance to slow down, rest and connect with our higher selves. We have time to strengthen the spiritual practices (prayer, meditation, affirmations, study) we may have been getting lax in, so we will come out of this even stronger and have better ways of coping when the next crisis comes. We have the opportunity to get creative with new ways to keep in touch with others and maintain a strong sense of community and belonging. This is the time to learn new things, new ways of living and being.
If we focus on only surviving this time of great uncertainty things will be just as chaotic when the next great earth-shaking event (or even just a small one) occurs. With the world changing as rapidly as it is now, uncertainty is a given. How will we cope? Will we stay stuck to the things that used to work? Or will we anchor ourselves firmly in faith and practice as we prepare for the next great adventure?
As in any situation, it is all up to you. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control what we think and believe about them and how we react. What will your choice be?
This month we will be talking about living through uncertainty. Please feel free to talk about how you are living in these uncertain times.
Yes you can actually have more with less. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? But just think about what might happen if you scaled down, made a clear distinction between needs and wants and cleaned out the clutter, mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Could you actually end up having more?
These are just a few of the things you could have more of with less.
More time. What could you do with the time you spend acquiring, organizing, fixing or paying for all your stuff? Does taking care of your possessions take priority over family time?
More room. Is you living space full to the brim or at least cluttered? How much of all that stuff do you actually use?
More peace of mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to always worry about someone stealing your stuff, having it destroyed in a fire or storm or having enough money to make payments?
More freedom. Do your possessions control you? Do you feel trapped in a job you hate because of your house, cars and other “stuff” payments?
More energy. Are you always exhausted trying to keep a house bigger than you really need clean?
More appreciation for what you have. Can you truly appreciate things you haven’t seen in months or don’t even remember buying?
Think about it. What are your material possessions costing you? What could you have more of with less?
You may have heard the saying “Live simply so others may simply live,” which is attributed to Ghandi. It has also been a popular slogan for back to nature, social justice and voluntary simplicity movements. But how often do we really think about what it means? Do we even care?
Do we stop and think about the real cost of our creature comforts, luxuries and “necessities” that many people can’t even imagine having? Do we think of the cost to the environment? To the disproportionate amount of the world’s natural and financial resources consumed by the U.S. and other “developed countries?” To the workers who produce consumer goods?
Bob and I have never been about “things” or being the first to own the biggest and the best. We try to live simply, but even we have to clean out the clutter and get rid of the excess from time to time.
We have recently been called to an even simpler way of life when we could not find a mechanic willing to repair our very old car. After a minute of panic and anger we began to realize that we really could live without a car. Once we made the decision to let it go and not replace it we felt an immediate peace come over us.
It has been six months now and we are still learning, but we are getting along quite well. We live seven miles from town but fortunately in our area we have a door to door public transportation service. At our age we can go into town for a charge of $1 each way. We use it for doctor appointments, shopping trips and any business we need to take care of in town. We have also discovered internet shopping and home delivery which provides much needed jobs in our area. I think I could get used to pizza delivery. 😉 I also bought a collapsible shopping cart for trips to the nearby Dollar store. So instead of spending most of my money at a big box store I spread it around a little more.
Of course it doesn’t always work smoothly. In the early days a neighbor rushed Bob to the dentist when the van didn’t show up. The van service is still not always as dependable as we need, but I have a list of numbers in my phone for people who have offered rides in case of an emergency.
When we gave up our car we gave up a lot of headaches and worry. We also gave up some bills which helped balance out our budget.
Of course other people do not understand. And it would not work for everybody. We could not do this if we did not have the Pelivan and some of the other services available here. But for us, this deeper step into the simple life has made life much less complicated and more enjoyable.
What have you given up or would be willing to give up to live a simpler way of life? Let’s talk!
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” The Bible (NIV), Deuteronomy 30:19, Accessed from Bible Gateway