“It’s a huge danger to pretend that awful things do not happen. But you need enough hope to keep going. I am trying to make hope. Flowers grow out of darkness.” (Corita Kent)
I do not know how this happened, but really, a full moon, Friday the 13th, spring forward into Daylight Saving Time, and the impact of COVID-19 all in one week? Seriously?
How are you doing? I’ve had some rough patches this week, moments when the “too muchness” of it all hit me with zing that a couple times has left me feeling a little numb. What’s this week been like for you?
We all have different responses to stress. Some of us get aggressive and push forward to make sure we and the ones we love get what we need. Some of us take off for the hills, tossing obstacles into the path behind us as we flee. And then, there are some of us who just temporarily shut down. When I’m overwhelmed sometimes that’s what happens, hence the sense of numbness. Fight, flight, or freeze. A full trinity of very human responses, and each has their usefulness in the right time and place.
But sometimes each of these things gets loose in us and takes over for too long, overstaying its welcome, causing us later to shake our heads and wonder, “why did I do such a thing?”
We’re going to be unpacking this experience for a long time. But here in the immediacy, it can help just to notice how you’re feeling and what your impulses are. This week when I felt myself looking at the world at a distance, I found it helpful to pause long enough to actually notice and admit, “Oh, you’re overwhelmed.” And then ask myself what I needed. It turned out once that what I really needed was to take a break and eat some lunch (at 4pm).
What impulse runs through you when you get stressed? What name would you give it? And in that moment, is there a way you might befriend and stay present to yourself? That takes some discipline, and it helps if you’ve been practicing. But you can begin a new practice at any time, and there’s no better time to notice and name what’s going on than in this present moment.
Spirit of Love, help me pause in stressful moments to be kind to myself so that I can truly be present for the ones I love, and sometimes even the fearful person in front of me in line, or my cranky neighbor. Help me remember that a fearful place in me might become a spot of grace, a place of growth where new life emerges into the world like spring flowers, if I’m brave, if I pause to notice, name, and love. Amen.