Happy? Are you kidding me? This is 2020!? We have been coping for eight months with a pandemic and things seem to be getting worse. Please, take a deep breath; there is hope. We do not have to go very far to see what this Covid thing is causing. It has prevented us from finding our stride. There is not a clear end in sight, and it is taking its toll on us, on our relationships, on our kids, on our bank account, on EVERYTHING. Living through this has clearly done a number on our mental, physical, and spiritual health. We now know a new term: pandemic fatigue – the feeling of listlessness and internal, emotional, psychological exhaustion from being in a state of high anxiety, hyper alertness, total grief, and uncertainty. This is something we’ve seen impact our nation with its anger and the division caused from being in this for so long a time. Folks, we are grieving. As Americans we are averse to grieving. As a society we are supposed to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, are we not? So, what do we do now, having to still deal with social distancing and quarantines?
For the last three weeks, we had been told over and over to not celebrate the holiday with folks other than those we lived with. Yet, I know so many folks who did not listen. I believe people are risking theirs and others’ physical health because isolation has become a fate worse than death. We have lost a sense of ourselves. How do we cope? Look up at the last part of this article’s title. It is a new liturgical year. It’s Advent. In the Catholic Church, Advent is a period of preparation extending over the four Sundays before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio, “to come to,” and refers to the coming of Christ. And this refers first, to our celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas; second, to the coming of Christ in our lives through grace and the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and finally, to his second coming at the end of time.
Don’t lose your sense of self. You are a Disciple. You are not isolated. Christ will “come to” you. Invite him in again. As Christians, we believe that if we take care of ourselves spiritually, our mental and physical health will follow. Your resolution for this new liturgical year should be to remember who you are. Christ has a purpose for you, a true mission. Defining this will give you energy. We have gotten into a horrible isolating rut. In this Advent, get out of your routine and find something to look forward to. Be as creative as you possibly can. Prepare for Christ.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Since I was a little kid, my family “normally” ran the Turkey Trot; We “normally” got Coney’s at Lafayette before 8am; We “normally” hunkered down on Woodward and got chants going with the crowd and watched the parade; We “normally” then got together and ate a huge meal. This year it is all different, no running, no parade, no big family gathering. What did we do? We created a new plan to don masks and silly costumes, meet downtown, and go for a social distance walk. With the cold weather upon us, they say there will be a Coved spike with all of us inside. Get outside. The weather should not denture us. Activity is healthy. At least every other day, change your landscape. Pray while you do it. Plan a walk with Jesus.
What are some things that are still good and replenishing? Remember these things. Engage them. Engage others. Do something for others. Plan it. Make connections. I loathe zoom calls. They drain me. You too? If zoom calls stress you out, it is probably because they are close to getting together with people but miss the mark. Some things that are similar fall short of the real thing and seem fake. So, make a simple phone call (explain what that is to a young person). Surprise someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Send a card or letter in the mail. It is fun and interesting, and not expected.
Lastly, and most importantly, turn off the 24-news cycle, and even social media. Studies show that it is addictive and only produces anxiety. Turn off news notifications and allow yourself five minutes a day. We are not going to miss anything by only checking in at the end of the day. If you can’t imagine doing that, take breaks create and strong boundaries. What should you do with the extra time? Join or create a book club, a bible study (see p. 3), a discipleship group (ask Marian) or a letter-writing plan. There is hope. You will find a balance and most likely you will find Christ! Happy New Year!!!