If you have been watching the news or seeing reports online, you know that at least one region of our world is going through a very dark time. Even if you don’t watch the news, it’s virtually impossible to avoid seeing the images coming out of Gaza or hearing about the innocent people, especially children, who are suffering and dying due to the senseless violence.
While it is important for us to know what is going on in our world, it is equally important that we practice self-care around the images and reports we are exposed to and the impact they have on us. Even though these events are happening far away, they affect all of us–they affect our minds, our bodies, our hearts. You may find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, angry, fearful, or overwhelmed. I urge you to seek support around these feelings by talking with trusted friends, a counselor, or members of your church family. I also urge you to try to balance out the images of violence and mitigate their impact on you by keeping your spiritual practice strong during this time.
Self-care is always important, but it becomes even more so during times of high stress and trauma on the world stage. Be sure to eat some healthy foods, engage in some light exercise, get enough sleep, and keep up your spiritual practice. Take time each day to “come apart for awhile” and connect with the God of your own understanding. Even if it’s only for five minutes, take some slow, deep breaths and reach out to Spirit. This will help put things into perspective and will do wonders for the health of your body, mind, and soul.
One of the most powerful ways for us to step out of the fear and sadness and overwhelm is to go outside and spend some time in nature. It need not be a whole day trip or complicated activity. You can simply go outside and breathe in the fresh air, allow the sunlight to warm you, and spend even a few minutes gazing at something green and alive. Filling our vision with green, natural, alive things can help detox us from the incessant digital images we are subjected to. It can shift our nervous systems out of fight-or-flight and our bodies can begin to relax and heal.
And right now, take a minute and read the poem below by Wendell Berry entitled, “The Peace of Wild Things.” May you find Spirit in the natural world and be comforted by its loving presence.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.