November’s theme is healing. And, it couldn’t come at a better time for me. Lately, I’ve been feeling subdued and resigned — as though something heavy is weighing down my spirit. Everywhere I turn, there seems to be something else I can’t do because of the ever-present COVID-19 restrictions.
Most recently, despite having a passport, I cannot cross the Canadian border because of certain COVID-19 restrictions. I just want to throw my hands up in the air and rant against the vagaries of the universe. And then, I remember that ranting isn’t good for me. So, I internalize my angst — and that isn’t good for me either. Maybe, the internalization is what’s weighing me down.
I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Many of us are feeling anxiety, stress and sadness about the things that we have lost during this time — such as the presence of loved ones, secure employment, or free and unencumbered movement. Even people who haven’t suffered significant losses have experienced social isolation, inconvenience, and a profound sense of uncertainty. We all share in a kind of collective sorrow and communal grief.
David Kessler, an expert on grief who collaborated with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, put this experience in terms of the familiar five stages of grief, which are not necessarily sequential: “There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.” I’ve experienced all five stages. Kessler says that there’s power in acceptance because it allows us to retake control of our lives. In the case of COVID-19, we find control in following safety protocols such as washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, and meeting virtually.
Finding control, however, is not the same thing as finding healing. Rumi, reminds us that spiritual healing comes not from control, but from embracing and honoring the myriad emotions that visit us — while being open to the possibility that life may yet hold something good for us.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out For some new delight.
May you be peaceful and at ease,
Rev. Lee Anne