Last Sunday, a group opened by a rich worship about discerning our purpose lingered to share the spiritual practices holding them up during the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic. Ministry and Counsel scheduled the discussion after a leading for deeper connection around this topic.
Most found the more contemplative rhythm of COVID-19 conducive to paying greater spiritual attention to daily activities, fusing tasks such as raking and folding laundry with prayer, walking attentively in the bracing fresh air, and practicing invisibility to draw God’s creatures closer. Movement—dancing, exercising on the treadmill, traveling a labyrinth—are other ways we delve into Spirit and, when experienced with another, build community. Some practice “groundless optimism” as expressions of gratitude and hope.
There were confessions of a dryness of worship and practices that buoyed us before COVID. Sometimes, not doing things—such as scaling back listening to news and engaging in social media—helped us sink deeper. The everyday-ness of traipsing the same country lane, engaging in conversations, tending our small bubble of joyful grandchildren, and regularly meeting with friends and in nurture groups to reflect on “how you and God are getting along” offer fresh perspective. Even Zoom has connected us to untraveled places with like-minded contemplatives, where we share our hearts.
Music and reading have transported us from frustration to gratitude, comforting and challenging us to collect beauty and not just be stockpiling nuts, as the children’s classic Frederick teaches. These have also been guideposts:
Music and Listening
- The Beautiful Not Yet album by Quaker Carrie Newcomer
- Wellsprings of Life: Quaker Wisdom in Chant by our Friend Paulette Meier
- On Being radio, podcasts, and website
- Lamentations from the Old Testament
- Daily e-mail devotions by Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen and Sojourners
- Frederick by Leo Lionni
We were gentle enough to allow imperfection into our practices, with a common thread of finding reminders to turn to God in the mundane and, universally, in nature. "Miracles are everywhere,” one participant noted. Many “experience God in conversations, things I hear and pay attention to when I connect the dots. When I pay attention to life, what happens and what doesn’t happen,” another shared. “God speaks in God’s time if we just pay attention all of the time,” someone else ventured.
Indeed, we found communion in the company of others humbly seeking Spirit.
Feel free to reflect on the queries we explored:
- What spiritual practices are sustaining me now through the pandemic?
- How have those changed?
- If I don’t currently have a practice, what might interest me?
Another such group discussion will occur after worship on Sunday, December 20, with new queries. Please contact Jeff Arnold or me, Cathy Barney, with questions, concerns, or queries for the group to consider.