“In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.”
— Howard Thurman
In times of crisis, tumult, and despair, finding the spaces of quiet, the stillness of calm, and the resolve of peace can be difficult. This is one of those times. Our lives have been upended by COVID-19. Our schools, stadiums, churches, temples, and mosques are empty. And leaders and teachers are trying to figure out how children’s bodies and brains remain nourished in the pause.
Now, in the midst of uncertainty, we will all pause to determine a response that will keep our bodies healthy and safe while maintaining some individual autonomy. We will try to figure out how to respond to crisis with integrity.
When the normal structures of our society are disrupted, we have two choices. We can succumb to panic and fear, hoarding supplies lest our neighbors do the same, or we can seize the opportunity to see what it would be like to build unconditional bonds of community among our fellow human beings. Fear is a powerful force, but each of us has the power to instead respond to great challenges like the one we are facing now with patience, compassion, and grace.
These are the moments when stillness and quiet is the true gift in the face of chaos. It allows us to connect to our highest selves, remember that we are connected to each other, and root us in the knowledge that our individual bodies together create a collective that is much larger, stronger, healthier, and resilient. We are greater than the sum of our parts.
And so, as we weather the storm, we can still remember that maintaining physical distance does not mean that we also have to maintain spiritual or emotional distance. We can hold the suffering of the most marginalized without pushing them further away. We can take care of ourselves and our families without threatening the commons. In this moment of crisis, we can take some deep breaths and practice leading with power and integrity. We can find peace in the pause. (And we can wash our hands. 😉)