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The crispness in the air and the vibrant foliage colors remind us that autumn is here, and winter awaits.  This is the time of year, after vacations or at the least some lazy summer days, when life returns to a more predictable rhythm of school and workdays.

This year our normal rhythm has a different cadence. The usual activities of apple picking, hayrides, gathering around the TV for Sunday football games, museum visits, theatre, and planning holiday travel have been interrupted. We’re not gathering around our dinner tables or fireplaces with family and friends as the days get shorter.  And, these shorter days have an impact all their own…sapping energy and darkening moods.

Add a pandemic to the mix and we have what could be a perfect storm.  Yet here we are.

We’re still unable to plan our next steps with any confidence as so much remains uncertain and though it’s tough to say—things may get worse before they get better.  As much as we’d like things to be different the truth is the winter months may find us more isolated as we lose the ability to gather comfortably outdoors and a vaccine isn’t ready and available.  

As Flannery O’Connor reminds us, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

For this week, in the spirit of grounded optimism, rather than focus on the future unknowns or anticipate the challenges we’ll face in the grayness of winter let’s turn our attention to how we’ve managed so far.  Let’s reflect on these past months and how we’ve coped or in some cases thrived despite pain and uncertainty.

Sometimes our best answers can be found in the way we ask our questions.  Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

 

  • What have you learned about yourself over these past months?

 

  • What nourishes you and brings you joy?

 

  • What have you done that has made you proud?

 

  • What have you done to strengthen family ties and friendships, or how have you built new relationships?

 

  • What have you chosen to let go of or walk away from?

 

  • Is there a change you’d like to make as you move forward?

 

  • How have you practiced forgiveness and compassion towards yourself and others?

 

  • What will you miss when this time has passed? What do you want to carry forward?

 

My hope is you’ll put aside some time for yourself this week and reflect upon one, two or all of these questions.  Chances are if you’re honest with your answers you’ll see there have been lessons learned and strengths discovered as a result of this forced stopping.  We wouldn’t have chosen the pain, suffering and loss as a way to learn more about ourselves, individually and collectively, AND it’s one small silver lining of this time—we’ve had to dig deep and look within.

May we not let this experience go to waste.

My real hope is that you enjoy this exercise as a reminder of how strong and resilient you are!  And, if you’d like to share some of your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.  Email me at martha728@gmail.com

I’ll close with some favorite quotes offering some different perspectives as we ponder… 

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~Teddy Roosevelt

“My experience is what I agree to attend to.  Only those items which I notice shape my mind.” ~ William James

“It isn’t for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security.” ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness…It took me years to see this too was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver