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COVID-19 and spiritual life: What do we do now?
In the sci-fi epic "Star Wars," a young Jedi, Luke Skywalker, not yet trained in the use of the force, along with his sister, Leia Organa, are fleeing from a storm trooper legion. They go through a large, seemingly impenetrable door. Young Luke instantly and instinctively shoots at the door controls to keep it closed. Yet the controls ruined their opportunity to simply walk across an extended bridge that the now blown-out controls operated.
It was a mistake, but it is one that any of us could have made if we were characters in the movie. As the enemy slowly raises the door and Leia asks, "What do we do now?" Luke realizes his mistake and explains, "Well, I can't extend the bridge because I blasted the control mechanism that extends the bridge."
The "what comes next" question is important in the movie and in our society today as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you might be wondering in the midst of this quagmire, "What are we going to do next?"
So what do we do now? Here are three ways we can choose to deal with dubious times:
1. Stay calm and be confident.
Luke's actions impressed me because he didn't go out of control. And Leia was glad she had a confident colleague with her. Luke may have been an untrained Jedi, but he was stronger than even he thought he was in this crisis. Amid the crisis, Luke was, as the old adage goes, as "cool as a cucumber."
Another example is two world leaders from decades ago coming together to discuss a world crisis and their countries' involvement. When one leader asked with anxiousness in his voice about whether this was the right decision or not, the other one said, "Now is not the time to get wobbly."
During this time, we need people to be calm, cool and collected. Cooler heads will rule the day. Why was Luke calm? It was because he had the force behind him. In your life, you also have your spiritual life that brings you strength. In my faith tradition, there are sacred words that read, "Be still and know that I am God." All faiths have sacred words that provide centering and grounding.
2. Do what you can during COVID-19.
Many of us are asking, "What do we do now to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic?" And you may be struggling with this. You may feel afraid or feel anxious for your family. You may not know what to do because there are too many options. You can't see the proverbial forest for the trees. Wherever you are in your present spiritual place, don't feel guilty about having these feelings. Life is full of uncertainty now, so try not to feel guilty about taking care of yourself, because you are special to the Creator. You are a kind and giving person, and you will know what to do when the time comes.
In the "Star Wars" example, Luke always seemed to have the right tool for the situation, including a rope so he and Leia could swing to safety. In the context of COVID-19, there are things you can do and things you shouldn't do. Getting educated on what is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic response is helpful, and much can be applicable to many. Pick and choose what you need to use. Don't worry about what you can't do, but instead focus on the good that you can do and be safe while doing it.
3. Trust God in whatever name God is for you to help you.
Using the "Star Wars" example again, after Luke destroys the enemy, he hears a voice that states, "Luke, the force will be with you always." Furthermore, this also is true of the spiritual relationship that we have with God or our Divine.
In my life, I have felt my Master hold my hand through it all ― whether it was in the loss of my first wife and two children, and so much more. I have always been able to count on my spiritual life to give me strength. Now this is not to say that bad things won't happen in our lives, because they will. But I like to say that my Master is holding my hand as I go through it.
Keep the faith and this, too, shall pass. As a wise prophet once said, "We will mount up wings like eagles, and we will walk and not be weary or be faint." So what do we do now? Keep the faith and keep on keeping on.
William Creech is a clinically-trained, board-certified chaplain in Mankato, Minnesota.