Sometimes this COVID-19 feels like we’re walking through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” especially when we see the staggering statistics from Italy and realize how quickly the virus is spreading in places like New York City.
A friend told me today he feels we’re living in a period akin to the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl era. Songs are being composed about it. There are thoughtful essays being written. Scientists are creating impressive graphs showing the statistics of known contagions to death tolls and analyzing the relationships to age and climate. Novels will be written that will be classics in the decades to come.
How do we live through this “Valley of the Shadow of Death” without fear?
There are the usual responses: pray, sequester and meditate, have faith, bury your head…
But, while I do believe in the power of our Maker, and I pray daily for the Source of all comfort to bring us healing and peace, there are a few other ways I keep myself FROM feeling the gloom that seems to be enveloping so many. You probably have a list of ways, too. I’d love to have you share yours with me.
Here are my four favorite remedies for avoiding the paralysis of fear:
Music – sing, play, or listen to uplifting songs on YouTube or XM Radio. I love seeing those folks on their balconies in Italy making joyful music together, don’t you? I just listened to Bono and Will.i.am singing a song they wrote for/to the Italians. Google it! Music soothes the soul and uplifts the spirit.
Write – as a blogger, you know how therapeutic it is to put words on paper, in a journal, on a card to a friend, or here on WordPress. Write about what keeps you positive and passionate.
Connect – on the internet or by phone, through a window or across a fence. I just installed a new app on my phone and iPad. It’s called ZOOM. Do you know it? The basic version is free. It’s like FaceTime, but it works on other platforms besides Apple products. My friends in California and Bob & I had a great conversation. It was like sitting across the table from our friends who are 1200 miles away from us. We miss them and it lifted our spirits to see and reconnect with them.
Walk – when the weather permits, go for a walk with your dog or a friend or both. I did that yesterday in our Lion’s Club Park. Yes, we practiced social distancing, but we could chat and laugh and encourage one another. It’s good for body and soul. And TazE loved it, too.
Do tell your dog he’s gotta walk, too!
Tell me, what ways do you avoid walking in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” these days?
My friend, Elaine, who has avoided poetry most of her life (after a high school experience in an English class (where diagramming sentences and picking poetry apart looking for rhythm and rhyme scheme and very hidden meaning turned her off) is discovering the poet in her soul! She sent me these Haiku. She wrote them this morning:
Our world is amiss One alone proves capable Gentle as a kiss
And here is Elaine’s second one:
Choose to share kindness Chaos only seems to reign Care completes circle
Kindness in Chaos?
In this crazy world where people sometimes are behaving irrationally, it is easy to write some people off and say they are off-limits! They are adding to the earth’s problems, rather than trying to solve them. One of my followers wrote this note yesterday:
“I’m all for being positive, Jan, but some people’s behaviour is sickening … like some here who are selling paracetamol on eBay for £10 and Calpol for ,£20!”
What to Do?
What should we do about those “sickening” people? Do we write off the toilet paper hoarders and the ones buying cases of hand sanitizer, and the price gougers? Do we condemn the politicians who sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock after a preliminary briefing about the upcoming pandemic? Condemn ’em and throw all the bums out??
27 Jesus said in Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Kindness Rules! Kindness completes the circle of life as we want it to be.
Let your creativity reign. Give birth to your inner poet .
Be the change you wish to see in this world.
What kindness can you exhibit today to add love and sunshine to your home?
In the midst of this COVID-19, there is hope. I loved this message that is linked below. It tells of the people of Italy who are using music as a link to one another and to feelings of HOPE.
The author wrote. “Songs of resilience that recall difficult times of the past are finding a special resonance.” It is MUSIC THERAPY in action! (I majored in music therapy in college!)
You MUST go and read, “What you see outside your window.” That blog will give you hope, too. Click on the link up there.
I saw on that blog a picture of a girl standing on her balcony in Italy, playing her accordion. Since that is my instrument, I certainly related to her… and I found this picture of this old cowboy playing his accordion:
Isn’t he cool? I hope he is playing “Songs of resilience that recall difficult times” that can resonate with his listener and help them to…
… Keep the faith and … Keep hope alive.
Yes, my friends, Share your positivity. Share this link with your friends, okay?
I breathe His fresh air and head up to my sanctuary.
There His hands embrace me and I feel His touch as I dig into His Word.
As I read, He guides me to new sources of His love and to fresh understandings.
I follow some WP blogs that add to my Bible experience. This morning I logged in to a WP blog titled “TheFather’sFeet.” The cover picture today is a WONDERful painting that the blog author, Donna Nielsen, found on the web. We don’t know who painted it, but isn’t it beautiful?
I asked Donna Nielsen if I could use the picture and tell you about her blog. I go to it each morning to enhance the WONDER of my time up in the Angel Room.
She said, “By all means.”
She explained that her blog is titled The Father’s Feet because, “I want to draw my readers to the Father’s feet with me and receive guidance for our lives.”
Donna posts two or three scripture passages and then comments on them before ending in a prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and acknowledgement, with a call for help on a particular part of our walk each day. Her subtitle is FAITH.
The Art of Blogging
One of the bloggers I have followed from Day 1 on Word Press is Cristian Mihai who writes on The Art of Blogging. His tips always are right on! His coaching is helpful for those of us who are trying to improve our blogging skills. Isn’t that all of us?
This week he reminded us that blogging is not about numbers. It’s not about how many followers or how many “likes” or how many comments we get. It’s about the people. “Build relationships,” he told us.
Cristian continued by reminding us that it’s about passion. Write about things you really care about, he instructed.
You can’t improve your blog if you don’t know WHY you are blogging, he said. Cristian Mihai always reminds me that I need to be clear about my purpose. What do I hope to accomplish?
People, Passion, Purpose, Precision, and Pleasure
I wrote to Cristian thanking him for the 3 P’s of successful bloggers, but then suggested we need to add two more P’s: precision and pleasure.
I need to be precise about what I write. Make sure the words are spelled correctly, the grammar is correct, and the format is pleasing. Add sub-titles. Add pictures. Edit out superfluous words. Read it aloud to myself or my dog. Make sure it sounds real.
No one will return to a blog that is sloppy or one that uses objectionable language. Or at least not many people will. We all know that. Those kinds of words and messes turn me off!
And the 5th “P” of successful blogging is pleasure.
I take pleasure in writing
about the things I am passionate about.
I get enormous pleasure out of
communicating with the people who leave comments.
I love getting to know people from India,
Sri Lanka, Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Finland, etc…
I really enjoy looking at where y’all are from.
As long as you’re having fun, taking pleasure in the writing process, and enjoying the connections that your blog makes possible, I think you’re on the right track. As long as you write about your passions (one of mine is this “Loving One Another” subject), and as long as you stay true to your purpose and do it with the greatest precision you can muster, then I think you are a blogging “artist.”
I’m glad you are here at JanBeek.
I hope we can get to know one another,
encourage one another,
and give each other feedback as often as possible.
It’s three o’clock in the morning and I can’t sleep, so I am up reading and commenting on some of the blogs I follow. One of them is Annika Perry’s Writing Blog. The picture above is linked to a delightful collection of random memories beautifully written. Treat yourself by clicking on the link below.
I guarantee it won’t put you to sleep, but will prompt you to create a list of “I Remember” vignettes of your own.
Originally posted on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine: Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020 This is the first post by …
When the great Sufi mystic and poet Jalal-ud-Din Rumi died at sunset in Konya, southern Turkey, on December 17, 1273, he had composed over 3,500 odes, 2,000 quatrains, and a vast spiritual epic called the Mathnawai. Now with A Year of Rumi from acclaimed Rumi scholar Andrew Harvey, you will receive a hand-selected poem from this incredible visionary’s life work every day for the next year – that’s 365 poems from the 13th century.
Increasingly, Rumi is being recognized as the unique spiritual genius he is, as someone who is fused at the highest level and with the greatest possible intensity the intellect of a Plato, the vision, passion and soul-force of a Christ or Buddha, and the extraordinary literary gifts of a Shakespeare. Rumi is, not only the world’s greatest mystical poet, but also an essential guide to the new planetary spiritual renaissance that is slowly emerging from the ruins of our civilization. He speaks to us from the depths of our own sacred identity, and what he says has the electric eloquence of our innermost truth. No other poet or philosopher has Rumi’s almost frightening intimacy of address, and has conveyed the terror, rapture and wonder of awakening to Divine Love with such fearless and gorgeous courage, such humility and such unflinching clarity. “The daily poems have become a routine part of my morning, and they always seem to resonate with difficulties that I am currently facing. That means that each morning, I am given a few minutes to just consider the meaning behind my choices, the value behind what I care about, and ways to better love those closest to me. These few minutes have become a centering time of self-actualization.”You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.
One of the world’s foremost Rumi interpreters, Andrew Harvey began a life-long exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris in 1984, with a group of French Sufis and under the guidance of Eva De Vitray-Meyerovitch, the magnificent translator of Rumi into French. This collection of versions of Rumi by Andrew Harvey contains some of the master’s most luminous verse, along with some of his lesser-read poems, with the aim of presenting a balanced view of his teaching that includes both the high-flying love of God and the rigorous path of discipline essential for those who seek it.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that.”
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”
“In the blackest of your moments, wait with no fear.”
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.” Actual course participants share their experiences
“I just started my year of Rumi and it is one of the best gifts I could ever give myself!”
“Rumi brings me closer to God than I have ever been. I feel as though Rumi lives within me and I, him. I hope to find through this course that Rumi can help me let go and let God.”
“Rumi is the truth. The whole world it is in danger – how we can change that only by love? To love each other and not by words, but by actions. Love is the universal law. We live in world with no boundaries, no walls and no control. We are free and do not want to be controlled.”
“Have you not spent hours gazing at the night sky under a spiraling Milky Way in utter joy? Rumi must have done that. His oneness with All is everywhere explicit in this work.”
“Rumi messages are very spiritual and deep, sometimes it takes me a few days to get the real meaning, but the process is what is about to open up and seek deep within you.”
“Rumi has the ability to always connect with the Almighty, as if in tune.”
“I have found that every time I read a Rumi poem it immediately resonates within my soul, my spirit. I use to be in quest for the perfect Rumi poem; however, I have found that each are so loving and beautiful that they are expanding inside of me. The more I take them in the more they grow and the deeper the feelings of these gems go inside my soul, my spirit. There is a personal journey commencing for me and I find that there are few words to adequately explain what I am feeling but that of the feeling of joy.”
“I enjoy receiving the daily translations in my inbox, it delights my soul to relish in all that is Rumi. I have a greater appreciation for the simple pleasures of life because of his poetry. He inspires me to create not from the mind, but to feel and think with the soul.” About Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, and teacher, and the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, as well as The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother, Son of Man, and The Direct Path: Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World’s Mystical Traditions. He is also coauthor of the best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. His work has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award (both for Mary’s Vineyard: Daily Readings, Meditations, and Revelations, with photographs by Eryk Hanut), and the Christmas Humphries Award for A Journey in Ladakh. Born in south India in 1952, Harvey studied at Oxford University and became a Fellow of All Soul’s College in 1973. He is Founding Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism.
This article inspired me to look more deeply into this 13th century genius. My blogging. Writers’ Group friend, Lilie Allen (@ WordPress Tea, Toast and Kindness) often quotes him. I think this 365 page book of selected writings by Rumi sounds promising.