It’s time to fill up the empty chalice again. In the coming days and weeks I will be using this blog to offer spiritual practices, poetry and readings, music and videos, and humour to help people centre themselves in this new world of COVID-19 pandemic living.
As a Unitarian Universalist I know that the way we get through this is together, with people sharing their gifts and talents with one another. My hope is that as a UU minister I may be able to provide some insights and practices that help you breathe and find your way back to your inner core of wisdom and strength. One of the fundamental truths of UUism is that we are not alone but part of the web of all life; the COVID-19 virus is painfully showing us how interconnected we are, but that interconnection is also a source of comfort, even when it can only be realized at a distance.
I am at home in self-isolation – well – couple isolation – until the end of March. We came home last week from a week of holidays in Cuba, spending time in close proximity with international tourists and returning through Pearson International Airport. We are following the government directive to stay home except for walking the dog, and we avoid people when we do go outside.
It was overwhelming to come back to a surge of emails, facebook posts, UU responses, government directives and news coverage after our limited internet access in Cuba. It’s been an anxious few days trying to absorb this new normal, and I have found myself forgetting my usual spiritual practices, when they should have been the first things I resumed!
Today I’ll begin with one of my go-to practices:
For years gratitude journalling sounded a little silly to me; how could saying I like ice cream make any difference to my life? However, in a particular trying time, when life felt bleak I decided to try writing down three things I was grateful for each day. Each one had to be as specific as I could, not simply “sunshine” but the sun’s warmth shining on my face as I walked the dog in the woods.
At first I couldn’t always come up with three, which shows how much I was struggling, but over time things shifted and I found it hard to stop at three! Taking five minutes each day to sit and think about what was good in my life did re-train my brain to seek the positive. Each morning after breakfast I sit in my favourite chair and review the previous day, choosing three people, events or experiences. Keeping it specific helps to evoke the positive memory. Even on sorrowful days there are shafts of light.
When things are going well I can get careless, either not writing at all, or falling back in generalities, but when I am feeling off this practice helps me to remember the good in my life, so I feel like I have solid ground to stand on instead of being stuck struggling in quicksand.
My dog Tikko is a constant in my gratitude journal, so here he is!