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Patience Through the Passover

Patience Through the Passover

Charity’s April 2020 Newsletter

Regardless of one’s religious identification or lack thereof, the spring season marks a time of healing, redemption, and renewal. Christians recently celebrated Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday; Jews just celebrated the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and into the promised land with Passover; and in a few weeks, Muslims will begin celebrating Ramadan, a special month dedicated to spiritual rejuvenation and awareness of God. It is interesting that in each of these religious traditions, all marking a time of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation, there first comes a time of adversity in some form or another. 

For instance, throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast on a daily basis and abstain from a number of activities typically associated with personal pleasure such as tobacco and intercourse, all in service of deepening their connection to God. In Judaism, practitioners observe Passover, commemorating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, a feast that once involved sacrificing an unblemished Passover lamb. And in Christianity, there is the season of Lent, a prolonged time of repentance and renunciation, which culminates in Good Friday, the day when Christ sacrificed himself as the ultimate Passover lamb, which is then followed by three days of excruciating pain and grief before the resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. It is no coincidence that just like the seasons of the year, each of these religious traditions follows a pattern of pruning and scarcity before enjoying the bountiful renewal that comes on the other side of that. 

In our current unprecedented times, it is difficult to feel a sense of rest, renewal, and rejuvenation when living in a state of perpetual uncertainty and scarcity. Due to COVID-19, our entire way of life has been drastically altered and heavily restricted. No longer are we free to enjoy the luxuries we once took for granted. We cannot move about freely or engage in the usual activities that would relax us and restore a sense of balance to our lives. Instead, we must ration our food and supply intake. We must maintain distance from those we love. We must stay home unless we are engaged in what is deemed an “essential” service or activity. In all of these ways, our daily lives have been pruned back to what is deemed necessary for survival which falls far short of what we need to thrive. Nonetheless, the sun continues to shine and the fields are beginning to bloom. Farmers continue to plant for the fall harvest and we are left to find creative ways to connect with one another and care for ourselves despite the obvious obstacles to both. 

In such times, it is important that we remember there will always be life before, during, and after COVID-19. Though we are all eager to discover what life afterward will be like, none of us know when we can look forward to that or what we will find when we do. Therefore, it is all the more pertinent that we redirect ourselves to the here and now where we can remember that the only thing truly required of us is that we survive the present moment. If we focus our energy fully in the here and now, perhaps we will even learn how to thrive in it.

10 Things To Do If Still Awaiting The Resurrection

1. Develop a routine. Nearly all of us benefit from a certain degree of structure. Developing a daily routine doesn’t mean that you must be inflexible or have every minute of the day accounted for. Developing a routine means establishing some basic guidelines and consistency in your daily habits. Getting up around the same time each day; planning certain activities for the morning, afternoon, and evening; having the same sequence of events throughout the day are all examples of developing a routine. Routines help our bodies and brains know what to expect and provide a certain sense of safety and security. 

2. Cultivate a new or existing interest area. Rather than focus on what you can’t do during these times of restriction, consider it an opportunity to explore what you can do. What are some of the hobbies or interest areas you normally don’t have time to cultivate? What is an old activity you would like to resume? What is something you would like to learn? Whether it’s crafting, cooking, learning about history, studying the world’s religions, or some other activity that interests you, use this time to cultivate that curiosity. 

3. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of what once was. So often, we rush to move immediately from the loss to the celebration. We tend to find ourselves so restless in discomfort that we hurry toward relief. I recall one of my theology school professors repeatedly reminding his students that there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There is no resurrection without first a loss of life. Therefore, it is important that we take time to mourn that which was lost – whether that be school activities that were unexpectedly cancelled, family events such as weddings or parties that have been postponed, or an entire way of life that no longer is. Remember that mourning and celebrating are not mutually exclusive. Rather, one naturally gives way to the other. 

4. Practice containment in the confinement. Rather than try to ignore or avoid difficult emotions, give yourself a limited time and space to feel and express your feelings. For instance, if you need to panic, allow yourself a 2-minute panic party. If you need to stay updated on current events but can’t handle the stress of a 24-hour news cycle, watch one evening broadcast or allow yourself 15 minutes to read the headlines. Give yourself permission to be where you are and ensure you don’t get stuck there by setting limits.  

5. Connect with others using technology such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, HouseParty. While spending time with others through a screen doesn’t replace in person contact, it can certainly help keep you connected with your support system. Increasing amounts of support groups are being held online and a little bit of human contact can go a long way in preserving your sanity in the midst of lockdown. 

6. Truly get to know the people in your life. So often, we are preoccupied with the busy-ness of life that we fail to build truly intimate relationships with the people we love. Use this time of restriction to deepen your most valued relationships. Use conversation starters such as those found here with StoryCorps or do personal interviews to get to know the people you’re with on a regular basis.

7. Set goals and intentions. What would a successful quarantine look like for you? What would you like to have accomplished when things do resume normalcy? What do you need to do to ensure that nothing holds you back once quarantine restrictions are lifted? What is one thing you would like to tackle today? This week? This month?

8. Practice healthy lifestyle choices. Begin exercising. Experiment with healthy cooking options. Start connecting with your higher power through a daily devotional or meditation practice. Practice deep breathing. Put limits on your use of technology. Whatever it may be, devote your energy to developing healthy habits you can carry with you once COVID-19 passes.

9. Have fun. Be silly for the sake of being silly. Play games, color, and use toys to connect with your inner child. Explore ways to have fun and de-stress. Children are resilient for a reason. A big part of that is they like and know how to have fun. Allow yourself to do the same.

10. Practice gratitude. Over and over again, research and anecdotal evidence have shown that the practice of gratitude boosts resilience. While it is normal to feel resistant to such a practice when it seems there is much to mourn and little to celebrate, the very practice of identifying the positive aspects of one’s life counters depressive tendencies and boosts mood. Whether it is being grateful that you have a family member or roommate quarantined with you, thankful that your TV streaming platform expanded its selection, or appreciative that toilet paper was in stock when you went for the weekly grocery run, identify some small ray of sunshine in your life today to help your mind and body withstand the tribulations.

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