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What can help us cope? What helped me?

Our common experiences these past months of living with the deep impact of a world –wide pandemic, a crisis of human, racial and social injustice, and our attempts to cope with our “new normal” in our day to day living is not something anyone prayed for, nor do we seem to know how to best function within it. A dilemma we did not anticipate or plan for.

This reflection I share my attempts to cope and find hope. In the end I offer an article to read that gave me greater insight into the inner work needed to gain awareness and understanding.

One day I found myself listening to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s song, “Love Changes Everything” to calm my soul. Another day, I signed up for an online course titled Interior Castle. The book, with the same name, was written by St. Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth century writer, can still draw me into its breadth and depth of God’s love as she sees and experiences in her prayer and spirituality dwellings. Dwellings that reveal to her, as she goes from one to the other, that God is drawing her/us into God’s love. This faithful love is what we seek and is given freely. One of Teresa’s thoughts struck me as I read, “If you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much."

On another day weeks later I decided that a way to muddle through was to stop listening to the news. That day, and others, I hoped against hope that the crises would go away.

Then, along the way, a suggestion came to me to read the book again titled, Riding the Dragon: Forty Lessons for Inner Strength in Challenging Times by Parker Palmer. In Lesson 2, Palmer proposes that even the strongest among us needs to pause for renewal. He suggests that each person find their own renewal zones where we can reflect and relax amidst the fury of words, and endless possible actions we can take to do something rather than nothing. So, I started to find a few renewal zones of my own that detoxify my spirit from the sadness, helplessness and fear.

Action was another antidote I considered. In taking this step, I and others can do something. “Do something," St. Angela, Foundress of the Ursulines, believed leads us to a strong faith and a loving heart. These are two inner strengths we can be confident will get us, Angela says, “to never lose hope.”

Over time I learned that love is the common factor in all my reflections. I also found that our economic and consumer driven society is not drawn to loving one another. It almost seems to be a last resort for some. Jesus, in the New Testament Scriptures, tells us that love is the first and “the greatest of these” actions along with faith and hope. All three are our foundations we can build upon and they can move us toward expansive, selfless and wholehearted love in this time of crisis.

To conclude, I recommend an article, “How to Fight Racism through Inner Work” by Jill Suttie who interviewed Rhonda Magee. A description of Rhonda is given in the article. I found the article on the Dailygood.org website.

Go to the website listed above, then in the search box at the top right corner, type in the title “How to Fight Racism through Inner Work.” By Jill Suttie. It was posted on June 10, 2020.

I wish and pray for all of us to feel God’s expansive love on our particular journey through the crises. I also hope you can find your own “renewal zones” and enjoy the moment.

Sister Nancy Beckenhauer