Saturday, March 28, 2020

Gathering Hope in COVID-19 Times...

We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young, and hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old... We need to renew our faith every day. We need to lock arms... There are some years in our lives that we would not want to live again. But even these years will pass away, and the lessons learned will be a future blessing.               ---Marjorie Pay Hinkley

Hope is to see the light despite all the darkness.   --Desmond Tutu

A new baby born in coronavirus times brings hope...

Recently a friend wrote me an interesting observation. She said, "For the most part, I have only had the luxury of reading about others' afflictions in the world. I would close the WW2 book I was reading and was grateful I did not live in those times." I think this is like most of us. A famine, tsunami, hurricane, volcano eruption, war, earthquake is something many have not had to experience. COVID-19 is vastly different. Almost every country in the world is affected by this invisible, unrelenting virus. It travels seamlessly from person to person, to country to country--it affects all regardless of race, language, wealth, or beliefs. Uncertainty abounds.

If you are reading this blog, there is a likelihood you know someone who is suffering from the virus as we speak. A nurse my husband worked with very closely in Missouri for many years was the first fatality there. I have a friend who lives in Germany who has a little boy with autism. His therapist unknowingly gave it to her. She is now home on lockdown with him.

If we don't know someone who is physically hurting, we or loved ones are experiencing economic turmoil and unexpected challenges. Perhaps we are lonely, isolated, and feeling in despair as we navigate quarantine and other life changes. Others are cautiously caring for loved ones who are elderly or with weak immune systems. Meanwhile, all over the world, health care workers are tirelessly caring for patients with little resources. It seems everyone is on the front line--trying their best with the new burdens they are juggling and learning to face.

Our friend, Dr. Brad Bernstein, on the ship to Manhattan.

We are here in Tianjin, China on Day #67 of our own quarantine times. The fears we had two months ago for the world and loved ones have rippled outside of our borders to now threaten far-flung regions of the world. From the beginning here in China, my family has clung to hope and tried to not let the fear become panic. Like the virus itself, fear and anxiety can also be contagious and this must be addressed in a rational way. Our emotions must be tempered with reason. Maybe we cannot gather with everyone we want to see and talk to, but we can gather hope in our soul. We can find hope, scoop it up in unpredictable places, and let it shine on in our hearts and minds...

When our hope extinguishes or dims, how can we rekindle it again? How do you gather hope back again? These are a few of mine:

1) Whatever our situation in the world, we are living in an unusual cocoon of time--with the new acceptance that we are not in control of this natural pandemic, but we can take control of our own actions.  We may be small compared to the larger forces around us; nonetheless, we have the power of choice and change. We can control how we use this time so when we emerge from the cocoon of time we emerge stronger. Time to learn and develop skills is always a gift.

The people I have admired the most are those who are resilient when they get scorched in the fire. They rebound, get up, keep giving, and then rally others around them. This is the chance of our lives to do the same. They fly out of the cocoon with a metamorphosis of new beauty and magical wonder.  Blog on Hearing Peace

2) People are capable of immense good that surprise me. A favorite book and cherished quote for me is from the book, The Book Thief.  The narrator says, "I am haunted by humans. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams (of tears) are flowing down their faces and they stagger on...” If we look around, there are many people on the front lines of doing great good. They are listening to their impressions, looking to organize efforts, aid, and help their fellow humans on this earth. In dire circumstances, people can astound me--especially when they keep paying it forward.

Giving cheer--we are all in this together. It will be the only way we will overcome this pandemic.

3) There is more gratitude in my heart. The simple, routine things we did before the virus seems like such a carefree existence. But now we are more grateful for shelter, food, and toilet paper--realizing that we are so much more blessed and fortunate than we ever realized.  Appreciation and gratitude can help us overcome and endure difficulties; they help us maintain perspective and increase our resilience.

4) Conversations with loved ones strengthen us.  Seeking counsel and advice from others can invigorate us. Young children can give us energy. I am more grateful for the connections I have with my family, loved ones, and friends. I am trying to understand their pain more--feel what they feel, love them more. It is hopeful to see the good, the positive--to refrain from cynicism. I love hearing or reading the sage, wise counsel from older people who have come through previous challenging times.

My son who has been alone for more than three weeks in an apartment with influenza and now the virus. Recently, he had a restorative conversation with his grandmother, my mother. He said, "Grandma made me feel so much hope--reminding me of how she had gone through hard times in WW2.  She told him about her mother telling her about isolation and death during the Spanish Flu. We have the technology to keep us in touch despite our remoteness." Older people have depth and scope of many decades to know that we will reemerge again--stronger if we desire. The digital tools available to us at this time are incredible.

5) There is a new awareness of the world's needs. As I look and talk to people all over the world, there is a common desire to know each other better.  We seek to be united, serve, and sing of these human connections. It is so impressive to see the singing in Italy with people reaching out with music to inspire and cheer those around them.

There are scientists who are working around the clock to curb this virus. I don't think any sole government is going to solve this crisis. We must look at ourselves, and look to each other to find solutions. We must do our part to not only heed their instructions but to also help ease the afflictions of others. All of us can "lift where we stand" and elevate hope. Our efforts can multiply, causing ripples of change.

My husband, who is a CMO in Tianjin, sending off some health care workers to Wuhan. I was overcome to see these health workers who were volunteering to leave to a distant city--not knowing when they would return back home again. I felt their pure compassion and will to serve. It is humbling to see the health care workers of this world now and their sacrifices.

6) I am grateful for my faith in God and humanity that keeps me looking upward, instead of down. I realize that many people are not only praying more, but they are widening their scope to pray for the entire world. We are looking more globally because to beat this virus, we cannot leave anyone behind. The president and prophet of my faith, President Russell M. Nelson, has asked for a worldwide fast with people of all faiths. That day of fasting is planned for tomorrow March 29. I believe there is a special uniting power of fasting. It is a part of many faiths and cultures. It not only brings miracles, but it softens and changes hearts.

If you feel so inclined, I invite you to join with me and fellow Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and many others on this day of fasting tomorrow. This is his invitation:

“As a physician and surgeon, I have great admiration for medical professionals, scientists. and all who are working around the clock to curb the spread of COVID-19.  I invite you to join with me in a worldwide fast — for all whose health permits — to pray for relief from the physical, emotional and economic effects of this global pandemic. I invite members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everywhere, along with our many friends, to fast and pray this Sunday, March 29. Let us unite our faith to plead for physical, spiritual and other healing throughout the entire world."  

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