This is an unsettling time. It feels heavy and shrouded in fear, anxiety and uncertainty. I understand and I share these emotions with you.
A sentence I keep hearing is “I don’t know what to do”, and, the more I hear those words the more normal they sound. The less helpless and the more understandable they are because why would we know what to do. This time last year how could we possibly even comprehend a situation where school children are told to stay at home, bars and restaurants are forced to close and retired NHS staff are requested to return to work when we have never known such times, ever. The Chancellor seemed to say the word ‘unprecedented’ in every sentence he uttered on Thursday, but, these times really are. We did not learn about this in school or prepare for it in any life up until now. It is wholly, unequivocally and entirely shocking and unprecedented.
These days are unknown. Absolutely. There is a thickness to the air, it is dark and we are not sure when the fog of uncertainty will lift. The news is constant and draining. The truth pierced by hysteria at best and lies at worst.
But, unprecedented doesn’t have to mean helpless. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean loneliness and fear doesn’t have to mean self-criticism.
There are small flashes of light in the darkness of these times. Like looking at the sky on a dark night. The stars are there starring back only when we left our eyes focus and see them.
Because there IS something we can do. There are actually many things we can do, both for ourselves and our neighbours. We can socially distance ourselves. Which, if taken seriously by the many and not the few can have a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19.
By socially distancing ourselves from the people and situations we normally find ourselves in we reduce the transmission of the virus and lessen the burden it places on our healthcare system. I am not sure about you but that is something I can do. Not only can I do it but I do so humbly and seriously. If there is anything we can do to prevent the spread of the virus and support the NHS at this incredibly difficult time. We must do it, 100% and without hesitation.
Like seeing stars appear in the night sky, so too does the light in people. The more I look the more I see warmth, connection, togetherness and tenderness in communities all over the world. A helpful gesture, a musician on a balcony, chocolate for an employee at Tesco, volunteers at hospitals, shopping bags carried for strangers, tireless doctors doing everything they can, donations, sacrifices, kindness, support, willingness, sharing, caring, giving, loving, belonging.
The strength of humanity will never cease to amaze me.
Many of us grow up desperate to make our lives big, bigger, best. But now we have to, out of necessity make them small.
How refreshing. How scary. How life-giving.
So, while we shrink our worlds to protect our families and our communities, while we prepare for the coming days and months we must, we have to, make light in our lives too.
Now is when we practice radical kindness and ridiculous care, when we must go out of our way to fill our lives with love and tenderness. Yes, we are in a pandemic but fear and anxiety and worry and concern are not the only emotions we have available to us. Happiness, joy, hope, awe, love, kindness, gratitude and inspiration are there too. They are the stars in the sky starring back at us when we let them.
The darkness isn’t going anywhere but, it is ok to let light in too.