“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
A recent survey of retirees reported on how they define “the good life.” Their answers revealed underlying issues such as boredom (just golf every day?), lethargy (no purpose), fear (losing heath, wealth, family), and the ever-encroaching loss of youth and vigor--all added to their list of concerns about missing out on “the good life.”
Living through the 2020 pandemic also makes us ask ourselves how we define “the good life.” Here are some thoughts and ideas that I have found encouraging as we still adjust to life amidst the pandemic.
Cultivate silence (as reflected by St. Benedict, the 6th century monk). Turn off the internet, TV, and phone. Some of our friends have set aside gadget-free hours or weekends. Enjoy walks, talks, friendships, and family.
Cultivate prayer. What works for me is to find several periods a day (10-20 minutes at a stretch) to enjoy just “being” in the presence of God’s love.
Cultivate reading. Yes, it is almost a lost pastime as we veer toward online distractions and articles. Head back to books!
Develop letter writing. I still love to get letters via “snail” mail. Until recently, hand written letters were a mainstay of communication. What a beautiful treasure to savor a hand-written letter and find it years later.
Develop community. In-person group gatherings are difficult but we can find time to safely meet with just a few people and maintain some ground work for post Covid19 community. We really do need each other. Also, look for ways to help anyone who may be struggling during this unprecedented time.
Develop a life in the spirit. Thomas Merton wrote: “Without a life of the Spirit our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory. The life of the Spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality, not as we imagine it, but as it really is.”
Finally, during the political and health uncertainties in our nation and the animosity that is seen at every level of society, let us reach out to those who are not part of our “comfort zone.” Real debate and real communion and friendship can be experienced if we are willing to be generous with mercy, love, and hope. Respectful debate should be part of our society and cultural experience. But there should be no question for those who follow Jesus--we are called to “love our neighbors as ourselves”...to forgive and forbear....to lay down our lives...to care for the homeless and stranger...so that as our Lord teaches “the world might know we are disciples [of Christ] by the love we have one for another.”
Recently, while grabbing some coffee at a curbside bistro, I noticed three young people confronting a couple because they were wearing buttons which read “Blue Lives Matter.” Clearly emotions were getting out of hand; so putting aside decorum, the intrepid rugby player that I am intervened, and I said to both parties, “what is the loving thing to do here?” Through God’s grace, we all chatted for 10 minutes, the tension was defused, smiles appeared on everyone’s faces, and people went on their way. I honestly believe that just the mention of being loving was the pivot that made a difference. Let us be reminded that Jesus himself cited the two greatest commandments--to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Praying for such a grace for us all