I normally write this column for the Covington News on the third Sunday of each month, or at least that’s what I was asked to do almost four years ago when I started. For the first time last week, I missed my deadline. I had a column ready for you, but it was scrapped, like so many other things, because of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus.
My column was supposed to be about a wonderful event that should have taken place today, March 22, at Oxford College. I had written about it in hopes that members of the local community would come join us on campus.
Earlier this year, the leaders of our Jewish Student Union came to me with an idea of a more inclusive and community building event to involve the other religious and spiritual life clubs at Oxford. That vision grew into a campus and community-wide event called Mitzvah Day.
Mitzvah is a Hebrew word that in its primary meaning translates as “commandment.” My students helped me understand it better in this context as a “good deed,” but in its deepest spiritual context, it means “connection.” Doing a Mitzvah is doing something that creates a connection to the creator. Their hope from the event was that those attending would have been able to connect with one another, especially across difference. One of the best ways to do this is through the common theme of giving back.
But we’re living in a new reality, aren’t we? I’m writing my article a week later from my kitchen table where I’ve been working now the entire week. Spread across the other side of the table is my son’s schoolwork, and my spouse is in the back bedroom in a virtual meeting.
Many of us are now working, learning and playing remotely. Many others of us have jobs that require us to work and interact with people in real time still, some of whom are sick and need care. Whatever the case may be, our reality changed.
As we continue to live and respond to these changing times in our lives, I hope the following tips and resources will be helpful to you. Most of them are free. This is not an exhaustive list.
Religious, Spiritual & Philosophical Connections – connecting with your own community of choice (many of whom have moved to a virtual format) is always a plus. One option connected to Emory is the Beloved Community worshipping community, a Protestant service of worship held on the Atlanta campus of Emory University. If you’d like to join us this Sunday via zoom, please go to this site: https://emory.zoom.us/j/857899939.
Down Dog App – an app that has yoga and other workouts is offering their apps free until July 1 for educators and students (K-12 and college). To access the free membership, search for “Down Dog” in the app store and sign up with your .edu email address.
Headspace – is a meditation app that has a special COVID-19 website right now found at this site: www.headspace.com/covid-19. You can find some of their free meditations on here and decide which of their apps to download.
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society - is an organization dedicated to transforming higher education by supporting and encouraging the use of contemplative/introspective practices. You may find some helpful practices on their site at: www.contemplativemind.org.
Remember HOPE – in these times of uncertainty. Honor your fears, anxieties, concerns and grief. Only you know how you’re doing, but don’t forget to connect with others in responsible ways. Practice empathy, kindness and gratitude. Everyone has breath, so don’t forget to breathe and breathe again.
Take good care of yourselves, practice social distancing and remember to wash your hands!
The Rev. Dr. Lyn Pace is the college chaplain at Oxford College of Emory University.