Cultivating Hope

For weeks I’ve been apprehensive regarding the return of church services. Was going to church worth the risk of catching covid? How would I feel if I became a carrier and gave it to someone else? The likelihood is that if I caught Covid-19 it would probably kill me considering my underlying lupus condition and compromised immune system. The “stay in place” isolation was taking its toll on my mental health. I was beginning to feel hopeless. Considering all that, I decided that I needed to attend services. I’ve felt discouraged and disconnected from my community and attending services might just straighten out my bad attitude.

Finally, the day had come. I arrived early and waited patiently in line for my turn to enter the church.

Reservations made

Mask inplace

Health questionnaire completed

Hands santized

Social distanced seating obtained

This service was unlike any church service I’d ever attended. As I sat in church for the first time in months, I had mixed emotions that ranged from sadness to anger to relief and finally hope. It’s been absolutely astonishing that citizens can go to Walmart and Home Depot but they cannot attend church or religious services. In my opinion, we’re living with so much chaos that the only choice is to turn to a higher power. A time where faith and hope can encourage us to hold on. At times during the service, I teared up feeling emotional and almost overwhelmed. The service was delightful and the homily really hit home. We were encouraged to find comfort in the form of hope.

Hope is about remaining optimistic even though we’re going through tough and transformational times. The pastor emphasized that it’s easy to become negative. There’s so much uncertainty that it’s difficult to make sense of it all. However with hope, you can view your circumstances as temporary. This too shall pass type of attitude. It doesn’t mean that you can’t feel negative emotions, instead acknowledge those emotions and move past with the knowledge of better days are ahead. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

The service did give me hope and gave me the attitude adjustment that I needed. It was wonderful to see old friends and feel the connection of community again.

So I decided to lay out a plan to continue my journey of hope.

The First thing was to Acknowledge…

We are all in this together no matter where we are. Our circumstances are very different yet we’re all dealing with the same uncertainty and limitations. We may be in different boats but it’s the same storm. I am not alone has become my new mantra.

Second, Be gentle with yourself…

You are a human being with human emotions that will range from guilt, sadness, anger, grief to joy, acceptance, happiness, and serenity.

Third, Start the day with gratitude…

Find something to be happy about. Whether it’s air conditioning on a hot day or a friend to talk to, everyone has something to be grateful for.

Fourth, Meditation or prayer…

Make time to reflect on the good in the world. Learn what you need to live a happy and successful life.

Fifth, Get inspired…

Search for the goodness in the world. It’s out there somewhere but you might need to look closely under all the muck! Start with your community and then expand the area. Instead of focusing on the negative things happening around us, search for people caring for each other and improving the lives of those around them. See the world how it could be.

Sixth, Get involved in your community…

Get out of your bubble and tap into service to others. Every community has local organizations that need volunteers. You can help pack lunch bags, hand out food to the homeless or add small acts of kindness into your routine. When you get involved in your community, you get a front row seat to watch people taking care of one another. It can restore your faith in the goodness of people and help you realize that everyone has issues they are facing… it’s not just you. While you may not be able to completely change the world, you can change someone’s circumstances.

Seventh, Count your blessings, not sheep!

So before you fall asleep each night, make a mental tally of the things you have done and the people in your life and look for moments that make you realize how fortunate you are.

I love this quote by Buddha, “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. “Regardless of what you’re facing, what you see on tv or social media or however your circumstances may seem, hope can help you look at your life and say, “I’m glad to be alive.”

Michele Palermo

Michele is a retired registered nurse who spent 15 years in Emergency Medicine. That's where she learned there's a fragility to life. Diagnosed with lupus, after going through a divorce, taught her to be a survivor instead of a victim. With her career shortened by illness she turned to books. She fell in love with the written word as a young child. To her, words convey emotion. Her new passion is writing. As an aspiring author, she hopes to inspire others on this roller coaster called life.

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