It’s difficult to believe the pandemic has been a part of our lives for nearly six months. It’s even more unimaginable that in one way or another it will likely be with us for a long time to come. Some call it the new normal.
So much has happened for all of us during the last few months — individually and collectively. Whether it seems normal or not is entirely reliant on our perspective.
In one of my last “Walk the Talk” posts, I vowed to give myself space during the shelter-in period to make sense of the unthinkable and to appreciate the gifts that even a pandemic can bring. I vowed to give myself space to think and breathe before saying or doing something that might make it all worse. I invited you to do the same.
Of course life went on for all of us in its own new “normal” way whether we accepted the invitation or not.
During the last few months, I graduated from One Spirit’s inter-spiritual counseling program and was asked to be a dean in the upcoming academic year. I completed my latest novel, The Weight of Faith, and am trying to find a publisher. I had surgery to have my thyroid removed and am undergoing radiation this month. I watched my beloved shih tzu, Mikey, slip further into dementia. I kept busy with life.
But I also gave myself the space I’d promised. I sat in more silence. I prayed more — both alone and with my prayer partners. I couldn’t go to the gym so I began walking more, and appreciating the time spent in nature. I realized that if I had to be in lock-down with anyone, I was so happy it was with my partner of 30 years.
I worked at curbing my fear and anxiety — and also my anger at a president and Florida governor who have so badly mismanaged this unprecedented health crisis. I watched as some friends and family took the threat very seriously, while others bought into the ludicrous idea that it’s all a hoax to stop the economy in its tracks.
Six months into this, I don’t have the answers many of us would like: Why won’t people wear a mask to save the lives of others? How come everything has to be so polarized? Is our president lying to us — and if so, why? When will there finally be a vaccine — and even when there is will our lives ever really be “normal” again?
One thing, however, became even clearer during the freedom that space can create. I am more convinced than ever that love is the only true source and the one thing that can help us find our way back to each other without all the lies, greed, political posturing, and divisiveness that have become the most serious virus of all.
Sadly the concept of “love” has become a bit of a cliché in our jaded world. It’s become tarnished by our fear of the other and the belief that only “law and order” can save us. It’s become threatened by so many of us saying and doing things, even during the height of a global crisis, that do not seem very loving at all.
I spent the last few months really contemplating how Jesus personifies unconditional love. I searched for quotes on love from a few of the spiritual leaders and mystics to whom I turn most often:
"To love is to reach God." — Rumi
"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." — Mother Teresa
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend." — Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“My sole occupation is love.” — John of the Cross
When I graduated from my inter-spiritual counseling program in May, I took the following vow: “To do what I love — and to spread love doing it.”
With this vow in mind, so many things began falling into place. I found a way to streamline and consolidate my three existing web sites — ceremoniesbygarrett.com, garrettfosterwriter.com and communityinspirit.com — under one new umbrella site appropriately called “From the Heart.” It is also the new name for my blog.
I purchased the domain name garrettfoster.love, which may seem a bit corny to some — but will always remind me of what I am on this earth to do (and maybe others too!). I have committed unapologetically to being an ambassador of love. The fact that John Lewis, who devoted his life to love, justice and nonviolence, passed this weekend inspires me to honor his legacy in whatever small way I can.
One thing I love to do, and can spread love by doing it, is to color postcards to send to people. I have colored 60 or more during the pandemic. Maybe one has reached your mailbox! The one here was colored for all of you.
When I set out to color a card, I think of someone I love or someone I think needs love whether I personally know them or not. I choose a card that seems appropriate.
The next day I color the card thinking of that person, how much they mean to me, and what I pray or wish for them. Each stroke of my pencil or marker seems sacred; each color adds to the canvas of what I am feeling. Before I place the postcard in the box, I always kiss it and release it to the universe to work its magic.
I sometimes send cards to people it is difficult to love; I even sent one to Donald Trump!
I still don’t know where we are headed, and the world can still be a chaotic and confusing place — but the love I have further committed to during the pandemic can only help. I am convinced of it and look forward to continuing to share it with all of you.
What do you love to do? How can you spread love doing it?