My blog post #218 focused on “Carrying a Heavy Heart.” That was 5 months ago. We still have Covid-19 and we in the northern hemisphere are still in the dark and cold of winter. Physical distancing still limits traditional socializing which usually lifts my spirit. I didn’t think political divisions could get much worse than right before the elections, but I was wrong.

Although a vaccine is starting to roll out and that is hopeful, it feels like emotional healing of our socio-political divide is still a mirage. In fact, political positions seem to be hardening as demonstrated by the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol and resulting impeachment proceedings. How can an ordinary person stay hopeful?

In August 2020 I suggested coping strategies like humor, family and friends, nature, taking action and/or a nap, and prayer. Today, it’s too cold for gardening or bike riding, I’ve already taken quite a few naps, and many group actions are still difficult. So here’s an updated list of how to lighten our spirits during the dreary days of January, February, and social upheaval.

1. Family and Friends – These connections never grow old even if it has to be on Zoom or Skype.
2. Prayer – This also is an eternal and universal survival habit.

ADD a PLANET: (think bigger)

  1. Prayer 2.0 – Experiment with new ways of praying. Times of crisis can be an opportunity to discover the sacred (the meaning of life) in new and creative ways. I’ve also started looking at the people I pass in the car or on my neighborhood walk with new eyes. I wonder what they may be struggling with and offer a prayer (or an act of kindness) for these strangers.
  2. Look – for ways to be of service. A stranger gave me a $20 bill. He said I probably
    dropped it. Regardless, I took it as a sign to pass on the favor and now look for ways I can do a favor for someone in need – like gloves for a street person…
  3. Act – Do something to put youself in solidarity with those who have less than you. Periodic fasting has helped me remember that some people are hungry out of necessity not choice.
  4. News – Listen to just enough news, and then turn it off. (I’m a political junkie but it can be repetitive even for me.) Caveat: Listen to both sides, not just the news sources that reinforce your views. This can be a step toward loving your enemy. You don’t have to agree, but it helps to understand. Instead of perpetual news, I’m substituting times to just listen to the quiet and be present.
  5. Enjoy – Find something that brings joy to your life. We ask Google to play Celtic music in the background. Jim and I have developed a custom of a nightly game of cards
    (Cribbage and Gin Rummy). I look forward to it even when I lose.
  6. Try Prayer again. Actually, all of the above can count as prayer.

If you want to be part of the solution, there are at least two civil dialogue organizations that I have used and recommend: Braver Angels and Living Room Conversations. Both of these groups sponsor structured conversations that help people who hold opposing views on a topic to understand each other better.
What works for you?