For people all over our globe, 2020 was an immeasurably difficult year. Most of us felt tested emotionally, spiritually, mentally and even physically. It was an incredibly challenging year for most people. We lost jobs, family and friends, our social sustenance, mobility. We weathered isolation and loneliness and uncertainty. We traversed fear and anxiety and dread and many months hanging in limbo with the unknown. We just keep believing that if we could make it to 2021, mostly intact, we would somehow feel an enormous sea change. We were happy to bid 2020 goodbye. I think we envisioned ourselves doing a relieved and joyous victory dance on January 1st, or here in The States on January 20th. We would have turned a corner and returned to our previous selves, our previous lives, right?
Thing have certainly improved. This terrible, deadly pandemic seems to be loosening its grip. Vaccines have become increasingly available in many parts of the world, companies are reopening and we are starting to have conversations about being able to see family and friends more readily. Here in America some sense of normalcy has started to return to our political life. There is much to be grateful for. So why are so many people still struggling in their hearts and souls?
We survived the shipwreck but now many of us, on many days, feel like so much flotsam on the sand. We endured an enormous catastrophe but instead of feeling fully energized, focused and renewed many of us feel like castaways gasping on the shoreline. And many of us also feel guilty about that. We survived a plague, how could we have the audacity and ingratitude to feel strangely empty or weary or tearful?
The answer is because we are human. The answer is because we, en mass, have moved through an actual global trauma. The answer is because healing does not happen overnight even when our bright and vibrant hearts would will that to be truth. And the most resounding answer is that we must be gentle with ourselves and kind with each other because that is where true healing comes from.
A wonderful, insightful writer (who I shamefully neglected to note) offered something that has stayed with me on days that feel difficult that I will share with you. This author posed the question that if your best friend was in grief, recovering from trauma or just having a day that felt rotten, what would you say to them? This struck a deep chord with me. Rather than chastising ourselves about how we may not have yet fully returned to our best selves, perhaps it is keenly important to offer ourselves some of the small graces and gentle encouragements that we would offer a beloved friend. Perhaps it is necessary that we allow ourselves to feel grief and some continued uncertainty as we process the perilous time that we all have collectively just walked through.
So, dear fellow human beings, a gentle reminder to be kind and caring with your sacred selves.
You have survived a very difficult chapter of human history and may need some time to fully process it. Do simple things that help you feel stronger. Get outside and feel the sun on your face. Embrace the beauty of nature, even if it is still only a small spring sprout pushing up from the earth. Take a moment to be mindful of the many things we are blessed to have. Truly, if you have food in your belly and a safe place to sleep at night, these are no small things. Take a moment to identify a few precious things that are still here after our year of great trauma. Give yourself the gift of meditating for a few minutes to calm your mind and your heart. Reach out to tell someone how much they mean to you. Offer a small kindness to someone else. Eat something that nourishes your body, seek out something beautiful to nourish your soul. And most importantly, remember that we are all flawed but also all perfect in God’s (whoever your God or Gods may be)own image and we are worthy of love and grace.
Give yourself that grace as you would to a beloved friend and remember that even if some days may not feel like you are, you really are doing splendidly and making progress.
Peace and blessings to all….. you’re amazing.