Interesting Times

What interesting times we live in. I’ve heard the words “crazy”, “difficult”, “stressful”, “anxious”, among others, thrown in where “interesting” is placed. I’ve heard of stories of strangers arguing over the last roll of toilet paper (I still don’t understand why TP is MIA), people making fun of others for wearing masks, gloves, and other PPE, and employees stealing hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, gloves, and masks and then proceeding to be fired from their job. Why does fear, anxiety, and stressful situations bring out the demons in a human? I’m not a psychologist, nor am I a psychiatric doctor, so any reasoning behind this is only through my direct and indirect observation (and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree). As our stress (cortisol) levels rise, our fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) activates. The fear of the unknown, and the constant overload of people discussing the situation on the news, social media, via text, in person, email, etc etc etc is putting many on edge. So now do we run or do we attack?


But what if we didn’t do either option? What if we looked at these times through a different set of lenses? What if we gathered our ability to meditate, think calmly, be rational, and help ourselves so that we may help others? Simple gestures, like opening the door for others, providing a listening ear for those who need to vent, or checking up on an elderly or immunocompromised friend or family member via phone or text are all great ways to support our community.


What if you saw this time when everything is closed around you to learn how to cook a meal? Master a home yoga practice? Meditate? Read that book that’s collecting dust on your shelf? Break out that instrument from the 10th grade? Clean out your closets? Work on yourself?


I challenge you to be kind to others, even if they stole that last roll of toilet paper out of your shopping cart. We all need community, someone to listen, someone to provide a helping hand when things become “interesting”.


Be well, friends. Wash your hands, don't touch your face, stay home if you are ill, and avoid contact with those who are at higher risk. Basically, be smart and use your common sense.


Below is a poem by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan living in Ireland, that I found to be just what I needed today. I hope you, too, will enjoy it.


Lockdown

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

March 13th 2020

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