God is listening. I firmly believe that God is with us, as close as we are to ourselves, and even closer. When I pray, I wait for God to reply, not always knowing how God will reply, but trusting that God will. When I pray for others, such as my mother who lives in another state, I know that they are with me in the time of prayer, as much as if they were in the same room. In God’s presence, we are all united.
2. Stay connected.
I was recently in a self-quarantine for 14 days after my husband fell ill with flu-like symptoms after we returned from Europe. (We are all healthy now.) I found that staying connected through video programs like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, or texting or phone calls, were all great ways to stay in relationship with others beyond my quarantine. Human beings are social and need connection.
3. Reach out.
Not ill or self-quarantined? See what the neighbors need. We can still practice social distancing by starting a group chat with the people on our block. When I could not go out, a friend of mine dropped some flowers and a bottle of wine at our house. Social distancing does not mean the end of service.
4. Be grateful.
There is always something for which to be grateful. Always. As I write this, both of my adult children are home with us, and healthy. I am grateful for the shared conversation, the shared meals, and for everyone’s health. Gratitude gives us perspective.
5. Slow down.
I have often wished I had more time for contemplation. Be careful what I wish for! In all seriousness, however, more time to contemplate and watch the sun rise or look at a beautiful tree through my backyard window brings me a sense of peace. Baking bread takes more time than buying it but helps me to stay in the moment while also nurturing others. Perhaps slowing down is a hidden gift.
6. Engage in meaningful work.
Monks have always known this: we need a balance of work, prayer, and leisure in life. I am a teacher so have been putting energy into teaching my university students through remote platforms, holding office hours, and finding creative new ways to help my students to grow and learn. Even for those who are retired or otherwise not employed, tasks like baking, minor household projects that have been put off, or organizing photos into albums can be meaningful work.
Love is contagious. Love, St. Ignatius says, is shown in deeds, not only in words. But it also helps to tell the people whom we love, that we love them. How do you want to share love today?