Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“Heart and Soul”

We are all familiar with the emotion of anxiety. That sense of uneasiness and worry often accompanied by nervousness and related to fear.  For many, it is a more-or-less managed element of our lives.  For others it can be paralyzing.  But all human beings experience it, at one time or another, even those who deny that fact.

On September 11, 2001, the horror of the two planes hitting the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan was broadcast on an endless loop.  The news coverage about the attack, and the two other coordinated terrorist hits, was comprehensive and terrifying.  The rescue efforts, the frantic struggles to find loved ones, ‘Ground Zero’… all occupied our time, minds and hearts.  We know, in retrospection, that this was a turning point in the history of North America with implications for the entire world stage.

I called my mother, in another city, to check on her and she was, not surprisingly, deeply upset.  It seemed that the image of the attack brought back all of the anxiety that was a reality in wartime, even in Montreal, as well as the remembrance that her handsome pilot husband had been shot down and she was left widowed with a baby at a young age.  I told her to turn the television off.  Take a break from the news. Focus on something else.  It helped.

Many of us are exposed to endless news and information through the internet, as well as more traditional news services such as television, concerning the pandemic now gripping the globe.  The statistics are frightening but there’s also a lot of garbage out there on line. Here at home in Ontario, we check the Public Health site often, looking for the most up-to-date statements from authorities.  Even as we engage in telephone calls, both with people we know well and, for example, as clergy and pastoral care teams making contact with parishioners, those conversations can provide comfort or raise anxieties.

If you are finding your anxiety level rising so that you feel overwhelmed, turn off the news channel, don’t check the Public Health sites or online news reports for 24 hours.  As long as you are practicing self-isolation, or quarantine if you have just returned from travel, a break from being ‘in the loop’ might be a good thing.  Focus on something else.  When I thought, “My foot is slipping”, your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the anxieties of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  Psalm 94:18-19