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Chaplain's Chat - More on Hope

Considering recent events, I feel that the message of hope is now more relevant than ever. These are uncertain times and it is important that we stay connected to each other and lean into the strength of our collective communities. Understandably, fear and anxiety have been building and in these undefined weeks or months ahead, hope will be a most important anchor for nourishing our souls. I want to express my most heartfelt concerns for each family and empathise with you greatly as we face unprecedented times. Worry and panic are very present as we turn on the news and see a world in lockdown or visit our local supermarket and observe the empty aisles and adjust to social distancing. Fear is real. It can be so real that it causes us to forget so easily the things that are stable and good within and around us and the idea of peace and hope seem like distant notions. And yet, they are so important for our souls. Considering this, I would like to offer some thoughts and encouragement on what that can look like within our current circumstances and how we can stay connected and in peace in times of great uncertainty.

We all have loved ones we care about. We have those we are fearful for. Fathers that work on the front line, mothers that teach, family overseas, daughters raising children, sons who work away, friends fighting to keep jobs and grandparents who are especially vulnerable. There is not a single soul untouched by the uncertainty of what this pandemic means for life and the way we live it. We are all in this together, and for both better and worse, this is the thread that binds us. As individuals, communities and a society at large, we are having to redefine what it means to be human, dig deeper roots and remain in peace in changing times. We want to be like the oaks, whose root systems are not shallow and won’t blow over in storms, but rather will go down deep into the earth and find the streams. They can stand separately but are all still connected by the life in the water that sustains them. So, I believe this is a message for us as a community in this season. There are many ways we can be social and grow together without losing connection; it’s now about reframing that and finding what works for us and our family.

I have heard many great ideas over the past few. Families are placing teddies and artwork in street-facing windows for people walking past to admire. The internet is bursting with group songs, quirky dance videos (and of course, cat videos!) and the beaches are lined with sundown strollers and budding fishermen. My normally quiet stretch of beach is suddenly full of people finding spots to watch the sun go down, absorbing its beautiful orange and pink hues and feeling the peace the closing of the day. There are group chats, happy hour via FaceTime and online learning like never before. We are finding ways amongst the very real fears and challenges to notice beauty. And there is so much beauty to be found just in the simple act of slowing down and taking notice of the present. We have become such a fast-paced society that so much of the beauty that creates deep-rooted connection in our souls has been lost.

There is a unique opportunity in the days and weeks ahead to be able to strip back what has us so exhausted and relearn how to connect to ourselves. Perhaps make time to read stories or play board games with your family members, both young and old. Bake, make, create: learn new skills and teach others. Bless those in need with your overflow, find a person in need in your community and aid them. Call a senior citizen and talk through their day. Check in on people who might not know how to ask for help. Tell a friend when you’re in need. Walk the dog, dance in the kitchen, watch a movie that makes you feel things or find some mindfulness colouring or mediation to practice – whatever you do, do it to cultivate the kind of atmosphere you want to move forward with!

Blessing to each family member,

Nikki Westbrook