When I was first asked to share my thoughts about staying “grounded, open, compassionate, and caring” in today’s tumultuous world, my immediate response was, “I’m all in!” This was quickly followed by “Who, me? I’m far from a perfect example of doing that. What on earth would I have to offer?”
Then, my third thought: This is exactly why I should share my experiences. If I didn’t struggle with staying steady, then I wouldn’t have any context about how these challenges—from COVID to politics and everything in between—can feel.
So, here goes . . .
First, I literally make sure I spend time being grounded, meaning bare feet on the soil. This isn’t much of a sacrifice for me, given that I’d go shoeless year-round if it weren’t for public protocol and Ohio winters. But, even for me—someone who loves to go unshod—I have to remind myself to take the time to put foot to dirt.
Next, I take walks. I’m fortunate enough to live half a mile from Lake Erie and, with my mask on, I have eliminated any vestiges of the nervousness I used to feel when saying, “Hi, Friend Tree” or “Good morning, Little Bird”—or otherwise talking with nature.
I appreciate gorgeous sunsets.
I’m drinking plenty of water.
I’m getting lots of rest.
I’m meditating and remembering to breathe.
Again, am I doing these things flawlessly? Not a chance. But every day is a new day. Every moment is a new opportunity.
Throughout this chaos, I’ve gained insights into what I truly value. I recognize what amazing people my grown children and nieces and nephews really are, and I list them specifically because they’re torchbearers for today and tomorrow.
They can separate the wheat from the chaff and recognize what’s meant to be kept. They can continue to carry the beacons that my generation—and previous ones—have lit, at least the ones where the flame deserves to be protected and cherished. If something doesn’t serve us well, they can let it be blown out by the wind—and, sometimes, they’ll play a role in actively extinguishing that which creates heat without enlightenment. They can be lamplighters of justice and peace.
Our sons, Ryan and Adam, help me to envision what history writers of tomorrow will say about our actions of today. (As a local history organization said in a newsletter, it’s a whole lot more fun reading about history than it can be to live it!) My sons and I have passionately studied Underground Railroad and Civil War history for a long time—and, while we once imagined how we would have reacted in those troubling times, we’re now living in a time where our actions can make an enormous difference today.
So, we talk less about how we might have reacted. We focus on how we will react.
When is speaking out the right thing to do? When is getting out of my own way and sitting in empathetic silence appropriate? When should I offer the loving gift of simply just listening?
When I’m in a state of prayer, I often meditate on seven fruits of the Spirit, and I will share them here.
Each of these, I wish for you.