I haven’t written in this space for a long time. Life and energy have been invested in a non profit I started 4 years ago, Journey Center of Chicago. journeycenterofchicago.org Hope you will check us out online. It is a welcoming space where we offer retreats, groups, workshops, contemplative practices, and more. People are invited to Come as they are, Encounter the Holy, and be Renewed.
As we all well know, 2020 has been an unusually difficult year with the pandemic of Covid-19 and horrific escalating violence and death of black lives due to the evil of racism. We add on to that all of the personal struggles and challenges that have affected each one of us. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe someone you love has died due to Covid-19. Maybe the endless acts of racism are just too much. It has been an unusually difficult year. Self- care in the midst of it helps provide us with not only health, but with what we need to keep meeting the challenges with which we are confronted.
What are you doing to care for yourself? Are you following daily rhythms to nurture yourself body, mind, and spirit? Taking the time to slow down a little, to meditate, do yoga, or go for a walk can breathe some relief in us. Monitoring how you are feeling, including letting yourself express the grief we so often carry not only in our hearts but in our bodies is so important.
How are you carrying for your spirit? During times of grief it can be hard to pray or concentrate. If you are finding that to be true, know that it is not uncommon. But know that your sighs and cries and groans are prayers being offered to God. And we have this promise in Romans 8:26, 27, “In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays through groans too deep for words. 27 God, who looks into our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit. And the Spirit prays for God’s people just as God wants him to pray.”
You may also find in this time praying prayers of lament to be helpful. To lament means to cry and grieve and mourn out loud. There are many ways to pray prayers of lament. You can use your own words, or the words of scripture. Maybe you lament through exercise or through singing it out. For a long time, I used song and music to express my grief and found great release through that. Maybe you journal. Whatever your means to lament, it can be a helpful way to express the grief within.
Silence is important during this time. Silence may at first seem empty but it fills us, especially the more we observe silence. Contemplative spiritual practices are wonderful ways to sit with God and be filled in a deeper way.
Covid-19 has made it difficult to gather with those we love. Connecting is still important even virtually. I encourage you to connect with those whom you find to be life-giving for you. That is as important as getting enough sleep and eating healthy.
So as 2020 lingers on in this midst of various pandemics, don’t forget to care for yourself in the midst of it. It is like what flight attendants say as a flight prepares to take off. If the oxygen masks come down, put on your own first before you help someone else, so that you have the breath you need to do so.
May the Spirit of God breathe peace into your being this day.