Coping in These Times

The rising count of positive COVID cases and deaths in Minnesota makes me wonder about the feelings around words like “everlasting” and “How long, O Lord? How long?”

We are not the only ones! Already in the fourth century before Christ, Aristotle philosophized about how being social was central to being human. And even longer ago, Genesis 2:18 told us what we know especially after one year of distancing: “It is not good to be alone!”

Other examples of how “it is not good” include the Nazi concentration camp hostages, or the endless time spent by prisoners in solitary confinement or the painful, unending solitude of many who fight against inexplicable illnesses.

So, what can we do if we are visited by another year or years of COVID-19? I remember reading Victor Frankl many years ago and questioning this Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher who had lost his entire family under the Nazis as to how he was able to rise above his suffering sufficiently to write a book for the rest of us. Obviously, he considered it essential to find meaning in what he experienced. Man’s Search for Meaning strongly declares that those who have a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW. Of course we find ourselves asking: “Really?”

As we look back to 2020, we have examples of innumerable persons who have shown us the way: medics who kept on—day and night—doing what was necessary; or artists who wrote poetry, songs and plays; even protestors with a cause; and certainly “little” people who continued to call others, write letters, make masks, do whatever they could, knock on someone’s door or sick room window to double a hand pressed against that window, throw a kiss or bring a meal. And of course, there are the nurses who tirelessly wore masks, gave vaccines or comforted the dying. They continue to ACT.

How did they and many others do it?

It seems they have mirrored for us what it is to be human and to be for others:

We need to find another to SERVE.

We need to ACT, not only think about or be worried about what might evolve.

We need to EXPERIENCE ourselves and others as beings who live on goodness, beauty and love.

YES! We can CHOOSE to alter our negative attitudes by ACTING positively and practically if we want to get through another year or years!

Renée Domeier, OSB