Sometimes it can be challenging to find reasons to be grateful in a time when so much of the world’s attention is focused on the COVID19 virus and its pandemic reach, particularly if we find ourselves constantly drawn into checking out the latest TV and internet news media coverage about it. Why? Because it is only natural and human to have fearful thoughts rise up.

In such moments we can begin to feel powerless to do anything about the situation. We feel concern for those who have contracted the virus and have had to be hospitalized or, worse yet, have been put on ventilators and died. We feel for the many doctors and nurses and other health-related workers, the police and emergency professionals who are risking their lives for us.

We look around and perhaps see others who are ignoring many of the guidelines or orders regarding distancing and the use of face masks, and we judge them and develop concern for ourselves and those closest to us. Will I bring home the virus from the grocery store and unintentionally spread it to myself or someone I live with?

Well, you know what? We don’t have to be drawn into that state of mind. And I know this because just a few weeks ago I was dealing with those same feelings and worries and it all turned around when I took up a challenge our minister invited us to take on. And that was to commit to NOT watching any of the news channels or internet headlines having to do with the pandemic for seven consecutive days. It helped, of course, that my wife was also willing to make the same commitment.

And what we discovered was we had just freed up two to three hours of each day to do something else, to spend that time differently. Over that week we found ourselves slowing down a bit, taking a little more time for prayer and meditation, catching up on tasks and projects we’d been putting off, accomplishing them at a slow and easy pace, and we now had time for just having some fun playing a board game, reading, or watching a movie on Prime. And we were experiencing a greater level of peace.

We also found ourselves being more aware of how much we had to be thankful for and how that shift moved us to be more aware of the circumstances of others who were going through this situation without the benefit of a spouse or of any family to support them. So, some of the new-found time was spent connecting with others via the phone or emails, and that proved to be a blessing for each of us as well as for those we reached out to. And I was soon feeling a lot of gratitude when our minister and our board decided to begin using Zoom to hold Sunday services and classes and special daily morning prayer gatherings, for now we could both see and speak with many of our church friends (the family of choice for some of us!).

And all of these blessings have been coming out of what I once saw as something to fear. Do I think it’s wonderful that we’re having to experience this world situation? No! Of course not. But I do have faith that good is coming out of it and that more will follow.

It’s easy to fall into judging how we think our government leaders are doing, to be bothered by some of their decisions and how those decisions are impacting some that need support most, but if we truly believe that we create our future from the thoughts we hold in mind today, then it should be easy to see what we need to do in order to change what we are seeing. We do have a choice.

I leave you with just two invitations:

1. Eliminate news channels from you daily viewing for seven consecutive days

2. Start each day by writing down just one thing for which you are feeling grateful (and remember to feel it, not just mentally list it!)

If you take me up on this, I think you may find yourself feeling more gratitude for the gift of life you are living by this time next week!

Love and Light, and stay safe and healthy! Steven