Reflecting on the past year a scene that remains particularly poignant is the Saturday morning in May when children were allowed out onto the Spanish streets for the first time after six weeks during one of the strictest Corona lockdowns in Europe.
It was that dazed, wide-eyed expression in those innocent faces that more than anything was telling me that our world had changed for a long time to come. Walking outdoors was allowed but no playing with other children. Humanity had gone into hibernation, triggered by a virus that insidiously finds entry into the body when we are most vulnerable in seeking touch and intimacy with our fellow human beings.
Every crisis heralds a new beginning
But, in every crisis the seeds are sown for a new beginning. The questions that need to be asked both on an individual and collective level:
- What can we learn from this?
- What opportunity can grow from this?
- What has to be accepted that cannot be changed?
One of the big lessons from the pandemic is that we need to appreciate more the many things we have simply taken for granted.
Travel to faraway countries, if at all possible, is hampered by countless restrictions, as if the virus is telling us to slow down, and stay in one place for a while, making room for introspection and appreciation of the immediate surroundings.
Lessons from nature
The quiet spaces of nature teach us to go into stillness in order to perceive the whispers from the universe. With calm breathing, the anxious heart calms to the rhythm of nature. The hunger for external gratification starts receding. With each long in-and-out breath we turn deeper inward, opening consciousness for growth.
In a world with a powerful negative drumbeat it is easy to run with the crowd. Minds are being poisoned and confused by a barrage of conspiracy theories, lies, distortions and exaggerations – nowhere more visible than in the recent U.S. presidential elections. Public discourse is being polluted by the power of algorithms on social media, amplifying toxic emotions. The more extreme a behavior the greater the attention.
Spending alone time in nature has become a welcome source of spiritual rejuvenation during these times. It is in the attuning of the senses to the ocean waves crashing to shore, in the observance of birds of prey soaring effortlessly against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the thousands of starlings flying in intricately woven patterns that an inner stillness starts inhabiting the soul.
The ancient mystics were very much aware that happiness is a creation from within, even in times of crisis. St. Augustine (354-430 AD) wrote that amid the fragmentation and times of anxiety “the soul is weighed in the balance by what delights her.” Natural beauty draws the soul into an experience of where natural order and tranquility resides.
Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker