During these trying times, my ability to spiritually reflect has been challenged by the constant “bad news” that arrives with the changing of the channel, most social media alerts, and “doomsday” text messages that are arriving more often than I can probably handle. Perhaps you can relate.
I am feeling deeply for those who are suffering and fearful for those who are most at risk, especially those in my own family. Anxiety grows each day as we learn more about the virus and as we know less of what will occur in the coming weeks and months.
I feel deeply for those who are already marginalized and how their experience will worsen. I am grateful for those who are risking their own health to care for others. I am inspired by the generosity of many, and I am appreciative to those who are social distancing themselves to protect others. I pray for them all, and I am challenged to act creatively to help those most in need-even from a distance.
Throughout the past week, when I could center myself (even if it was for a few minutes at a time), I kept recalling the message of Bronnie Ware, author of Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
Ware, a palliative nurse, captured themes that she experienced in those she served in their final days. In writing my new book, Dreams Come True: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life, I reference Ware’s insight as motivation to live our best life as our true self while we still can.
As we face life’s storms, on a national/global scale (ex. war), a local scale (ex. natural disasters, systemic injustice) and on a personal scale (ex. battles with disease, death of loved one), a small window presents itself to re-assess our lives and to make different, more fruitful choices.
For now, the storm we collectively encounter in COVID-19 is already here or on its way, depending on where you live. We find ourselves with an opportunity to re-imagine our life, not as a daily challenge of self-gain but as a life of service and love, a life to be truer to who we are as being wonderfully made by our God.
Ware offers her top five regrets from the dying that you can read here. I would like to highlight Ware’s first regret for further reflection when we take a break from the news, Netflix, and our daily tasks:
Regret #1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
There is much to think about these days. Find time to explore who you really are, and what matters most.
If we are among the fortunate to recall these challenging days, might we live our life as truer to ourselves.
Might we love deeper, and might we, instead of meeting the needs of external voices, meet the needs of those who are on the margins, those who are desperate for someone to love them, to advocate for them, to bring them justice and dignity.
How might this storm transform us as spiritual beings, re-imagining this life as the true gift it is for all of God’s creation? Might this be the silver lining of these darkest of clouds.
Let us continue to pray for one another and may we be responsible, kind, and reflective as we embrace this transformative storm together.