With gratitude: Finding peace in a pandemic
Today is the day we celebrate, remember, and honor those who have died in combat while serving in the American armed forces. The long weekend is also usually synonymous with cookouts, beach trips, and spending time with friends and family. Things look a little different this year, for most of us.
Nearly three months into quarantine, social distancing has worn many of us thin. Sheltering in place can be lonely, depressing, and leave us with entirely too much time to think. It makes sense that many are chafing for a break from the stressful monotony of working from home, parenting without respite, endless Zoom meetings, and trying to homeschool.
Be kind to the parts of you that long to escape, that may resent others for breaking the rules and doing as they please. Be gentle with the parts of you that struggle with anxiety – anxiety about job security, financial security, and what the heck life after quarantine looks like. Have compassion for the parts of you that mourn the loss of a normal you may have taken for granted – the normal of barbecues, game nights, road trips, and family parties.
Embrace the parts of you that struggle to maintain patience after the 15th interruption to fix a broken toy, break up a sibling fight, or change a diaper while you try to finish a report. Be soft toward the parts that feel trapped and paralyzed, waiting for someone to tell you it is safe. Be loving toward the parts of you that lock up and go rigid when you feel on edge.
This Memorial Day is different in countless ways from the norm. Normal, indeed, is nearly meaningless at this moment in time. But some things hold true even in the strangest of circumstances: by holding grace for yourself and all of your parts, you open your heart for gratitude and a measure of peace.
Find gratitude in whatever small ways you can. Appreciate the warmth of a lovely spring day, even if you would normally spend it at the beach. Find joy in an extra weekend day, even if you spend it cleaning rather than traveling to a friend’s. Enjoy the banter of a lengthy GIF exchange, even if you would prefer to be exchanging jokes in person. Seek gratitude, and feel your heart soften.
Pandemics end at some point; gratitude is a practice that can shape a life. Today is a day to hold gratitude. May it be a sweet one for you, and a day of comfort for those who mourn loved ones lost in the service.
Happy Memorial Day.