3 Things the Pandemic Can Teach About Facing Our Troubles

“It’s still pitch black out,” my husband said. He knows I don’t like to drive in the dark, but I needed to get to southern Illinois by late morning. I climbed in the frosty car before sunrise and replied, “The good news is it’s only going to get lighter.”

My words hung in the air like a promise as I cautiously drove through the dark woods on the hilly, winding roads of Indiana. I heard a voice on the radio say this about the pandemic, “Things look dark right now, but there’s hope on the horizon.” Looking east, streaks of orange and pink glowed just below the bare tree line.

It occurred to me that our best reaction to the Coronavirus could provide a lesson in how to face any dark time in our lives by taking this three-step approach.

Face Facts. After a few months at my first job out of college, I reluctantly went to my dad in tears. I had racked up almost $300 on my American Express card and had no way to pay it. He looked at my budget and immediately saw it was unrealistic. He helped me make a more honest one and gave the same good advice I’d heard dozens of times growing up, “You always have to face the facts, kid.”

Similarly with the Coronavirus, we have to face the facts. As of this week, more than a quarter of a million people in the United States have now died from Covid-19, and the number of new infections is setting records every day. We also know there are scientifically proven things we can do to keep the virus from spreading so vigorously.

Do What You Can. When life gets dicey, I always turn to The Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer, learned from my mother-in-law when I was a young mom, immediately centers me and helps me focus on what I can and can’t change when facing a problem.

As we continue to make tough decisions during this pandemic, we must separate wisdom from nonsense and have the courage to do what we can. The Center for Disease Control is still making these recommendations: Stay home when possible. Wear a mask in public settings. Wash hands often. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. If you must go somewhere, stay at least six feet away from others. We can’t control the virus, but we can do things to help protect ourselves and others.

Look on the Bright Side. A relative’s home in Georgia was recently destroyed by a 16,000 pound tree in the aftermath of a hurricane. She and her husband have since been living in a small hotel room with their dog and cat while dealing with insurance companies and all the stress of having their life suddenly turned upside down in the middle of a pandemic. This is not the first time the young couple has been dealt a crummy hand, but I’m struck by their gratitude no one was hurt and their faith things will eventually fall back into place.

No matter the situation, once we have faced the facts and done all we can, the only thing left to do is be hopeful. As I reached the interstate, the radio reported promising news of a Coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s words sounded like fatherly advice, “Just hold on a little longer.”

In 1650, Thomas Fuller wrote what has become a well-known and encouraging proverb, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Merging onto the highway, the sky was impossibly blue and the sun shone so brightly above the horizon, I reached for my sunglasses. 🙂

Question of the Week: How do you keep looking on the bright side during the pandemic or when facing personal troubles? Please leave your response in the comments. Wishing you a bright and healthy week!

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One Sun Wishes Us All a ‘Good Morning’

Driving home from a weekend visit with my daughter in Chicago, I left the city before dawn to beat the Monday morning traffic. As I-90 led me into Indiana, the sky was dark and lonely, lit only by the glow of automated toll booths.

I had all but forgotten about the sunrise, as it was the kind that bursts rather than creeps into view. Suddenly the eastern sky exploded with blinding light, illuminating the sprawling steel mill that sputters and spews on Gary’s lakeshore.

It was magnificent! I instantly felt the sun energize my groggy mind and body. “Good morning,” I said aloud to no one and to everyone.

I thought of Maya Angelou’s poem On the Pulse of the Morning which ends ~“Here, on the pulse of this new day, You may have the grace to look up and out, And into your sister’s eyes, Into your brother’s face, your country, And say simply, Very simply, With hope, Good morning.”

My husband voluntarily rises before the sun nearly every morning. I do not, but the next day I inexplicably woke before dawn. I pulled on jeans over my pajamas, slipped on my sneakers and coat, and ran outside to greet the sun. The morning magic included a thick mist rising up from an invisible lake, a flock of graceful geese flying overhead, and five deer quietly foraging for breakfast.

My sun came up behind thick woods beyond a golden field in the Midwest, yet I vaguely understand the same sun rose over mountains, oceans, deserts, farms, and cities. It rose over mansions and huts. It rose over my house and yours.

I confess it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around that, as well as the sun’s scientific role. It is a star and the source of energy for life on Earth. It provides us light and heat. It allows plants to conduct photosynthesis, creating food to eat and oxygen to breathe. Its reflection off the moon offers a nightlight. It is the gravitational center of our solar system, keeping the planets in place. We use it to mark our days and our years.

What’s easier for me to grasp is the inspiration the sun offers poets, mystics, and artists, and the reason I was outside at dawn in my jammies watching it make its daily debut. Each sunrise brings with it a unifying reminder of the incomprehensible mystery, beauty, and wisdom of our universe.

No matter our differences, the sunrise is our common denominator ~ faithfully shining equally on every upturned, wishful face. So we can all wake up and say, very simply, and with hope, “Good morning!”