Mindful Mondays: Soul Care During The Pandemic
By Gina Buccini, MS, Transformational Growth Coach
In the midst of this pandemic, I couldn’t help but think about Pastor Todd’s recent sermons on the rhythms of life. He spent the month of January on sabbatical seeking the rhythms of his own life and returned in February to teach us how to practice the way of Jesus. Many of the things he talked about like prayer, resting on the Sabbath, meditating on God’s word, became more solidified in rhythms of my own. Within these practices, I learned more about who I am and what sustains me. Some were natural a fit, as I am drawn to silence and solitude. Other practices I discovered on my own, like a rhythm of daily journaling.
As I started living into new rhythms, I could feel something stirring in my spirit. Was it change? Was it a deeper connection with God? I wasn’t sure. Slowly, I began to see that it isn’t always about learning something new, but rather unlearning what we think we already know. Then March came, and the catastrophe of Covid-19 took hold. Our communities, cities, churches and families were catapulted into an unprecedented place that nobody could imagine: the world got sick and life got cancelled.
Any sense of normality was suddenly shaken to the core. And so were my rhythms. My focus changed to essential grocery shopping, calling on aging parents and setting up virtual meetings. There was anxiety ridden text messages sent to my kids, my friends, my family members. And as the days turned into weeks, the uncertainty lurked and reared as we were all forced into a way of being that is wholly unnatural to the soul.
So many are struggling with various levels of anxiety, loss, grief and fear. I was recently informed that my San Clemente High School senior will not be returning to school. An important rite of passage abruptly taken away. Grad Night, Prom, Graduation ceremony, family celebration plans – all gone. He said just the other day, “I wish I would have known that would be my last day at school.” That thought seemed to play itself over and over in my mind…I wish I would have known. I allowed myself to feel the loss and then reality struck: there’s a lot we don’t know and can’t do right now, even in our most meaningful places of life. But, what do we know? And what kinds of choices can we actually make?
The author John Eldridge said, “Constant uncertainty is brutal on the soul.”
As we move through this unprecedented season of uncertainty, new rhythms of grace are critical to anchor our souls and allow us to live into a place that is peaceful, loving, nourishing and sustaining. How we prepare ourselves for new rhythms, or new practices, is highly unique and personal to each of us.
A Path to New Rhythms
- “Be still and know I am God.” – Psalm 46:10
Many believe this Scripture means rest, relax, reflect. Stop striving. Stop racing around. Stop fighting with life, even. Others see it has a prompt to be still, and have open ears and open hearts toward God. As we are taken from our normal hustle and forced into the spaces of our homes, being still to hear Him is critical to the soul. He is our refuge and our fortress. Try for 10-30 minutes of still silence or centering prayer before your day begins, if possible. I’ve found this practice grounds me in His peace – something I desperately need right now.
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.” Isaiah 26:3.
Speculating, guessing, wondering, or will-powering our way through makes the soul very weary. It also makes us vulnerable to the “worry-webs” of stress and anxiety. When I feel anxious thoughts or fear language looming, I immediately turn to God with a word or a phrase…like you are my Shephard. I bring my thoughts back to His promises, you will never leave me nor forsake me. Some call these “breath prayers.” As I repeat this process, (several times a day) God helps me stay steady and calm. It keeps me out of the future “what ifs” and present to the moment and to Him.
- “Give thanks to the Lord, he is good; His love endures forever.” – 1st Chronicles 16:34
Gratitude and praise is like an oiling of the soul. It reminds us to be thankful for the things we do have and the memories we can still make. Simple things, big things, there is so much to be grateful for if we take a moment to look for it. An “attitude of gratitude” takes us beyond our circumstances and gives us a chance to experience the God who is the “Life of our life.”
Find what you are drawn to. Find what keeps you connected to God and others. Seek how God is speaking to you. You may find new rhythms in music, writing, or creative projects, or just being more mindful in the way you go about your daily routine. I’ve also seen new rhythms established in families, small groups and among loved ones near and far.
Through it all, I am reminded of the biblical story of Hagar, the Egyptian slave, who ran away from the camp of Abraham and Sarah. There she was in the vast desert, pregnant, alone, isolated – her own sea of uncertainty. Suddenly, an angel appeared beside her…he broke in….and broke through. The divine messenger chased her down in the desert and spoke destiny and life, love and care, into the darkness. Some believe it was Christ himself as a foreshadow to come. After their encounter, Hagar give him a name: “The God Who Sees.” In other translations, it is “The God Who Sees Me.” Her story gives us a picture of our God who is personal, intimate and active in our lives. The Almighty God is the God who sees you. Suffering does not go unnoticed. His Word promises that He is carrying our burdens even now. And as the song so beautifully reveals about Him:
Even when I don’t see it, You’re working.
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working.
You never stop; You never…stop…working.
In this time of uncertainty, unexpected and unknowable twists and turns, soul care is essential. As we embrace new rhythms of grace and move toward a deeper place with our Lord, He breaks in…and breaks through…and He carries us with tender care, love and mercy, out of the darkness and into His glorious light.
Knowing our Love Languages and those of others can be soothing and healing to our souls. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/2018/06/the-five-love-languages-defined/
Physical touch makes you healthier by reducing stress and boosting your immune system. www.themindsjournal.com
Shetal Desai, Spiritual Director: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (626) 234-7557
Gina M. Buccini, MS, Transformational Growth Coach – Faith Based: email@example.com