Earlier this month I was hiking a nearby trail. The day was sunny and I needed to get out of the house. The state was not yet on quasi-lockdown but the few fellow hikers were keeping a responsible distance.
In northern Illinois, the snow has melted but the trees are still barren. One can describe the landscape as grim and desolate. Or one can smile in anticipation of the imminent advent of spring.
As I was walking, I saw the late winter sun shining through the barren branches of this massive oak.
And perhaps, a metaphor. My takeaway from this photo is that the light will shine through the grimness. And hope will light the way to the better days of spring.
Current world, national and local events might seem grim or at least concerning. A virus that is not yet completely understood or containable. Fear is understandable, but need not hold us captive.
Fear can be useful. Fear identifies danger.
We can fear the danger of a pandemic that might overwhelm our healthcare system and resources.
We do need to work together to take action to reduce the risk of spreading infection. We will practice social distancing and we will reach out to others to ensure basic needs are being met.
We don’t need to worry ourselves sick. We can turn this difficult situation into a positive opportunity – such as an opportunity to practice compassion and caring.
Think about it. Most of us have some extra time on our hands now. Sure, it’s a great time to catch up on our Netflix binge-watching.
But in addition, we can devote some of this time to connecting with others. Communicate with virtual hugs. Offer to shop for those who can’t. Share your toilet paper. The list is endless. If you are sheltering in place with family members and roommates, consider offering more compliments than constructive criticisms. This might be a time where it’s better to focus more on your own self-improvement rather than others’ improvements.
Russell Simmons wrote:
“Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.”
Like the sun shining through the barren branches, we can shine with compassion during these dark times.