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Spiritual practices for a time such as this

Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy and Dr. Laura Miraz

March 13, 2020

In light of the outbreak of COVID-19 we, along with some of our American Baptist Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, have been sharing best practices to encourage those we care for in these times. Here are some of the practices that have been shared:

  1. Pray as you are able. Pray silently as often as you need to. Pray with a spouse, partner, colleague, friend or stranger. Pray.
  2. Listen to music that calms your spirit and soul—hymns, gospel, jazz, classical, etc. Engage in spiritual reading such as the Bible, devotionals, or some other type of reading you find comforting,
  3. Carve out 5 to10 minutes every 3 hours to meditate or practice mindfulness or contemplative prayer. If you don’t pray, sit still in safe spaces and breathe.
  4. Practice self-care. Hydrate, stretch, walk, exercise. Do so at home if you don’t want to go to a public gym. Try to eat a balanced meal daily.
  5. If you find yourself feeling anxious, pause and reflect on something good or call someone. Acknowledge the fears of others including children, elderly, spouses, partners, friends, colleagues. Give others, especially children, permission to feel anxious or whatever they feel. It’s appropriate in these times. It’s also appropriate for adults to feel anxious.
  6. Listen to one another with love, compassion and empathy. Try not to minimize feelings by cutting another off. Let them complete their thoughts before responding. Do not dismiss the fears, concerns or thoughts of others. Help those who confide in you feel safe, heard, and comforted.
  7. Don’t be afraid or uncomfortable with sitting in silence with others. Don’t be quick or feel like you must give a verbal response to everything that is said or done. Silence is comforting. Sometimes another may find more comfort in your presence than your words. The situation from person to person varies. Be mindful that there is always a great appreciation and comfort in the use of our words.
  8. Encourage children to draw or write down their anxieties, concerns or thoughts in a journal, notebook or on a piece of paper. Encourage your family to sit down and share their thoughts together. This maybe challenging for some, but it has been shown to be helpful and therapeutic.
  9. If you are single and live away from family, remember you are not alone. You are surrounded by colleagues, friends and sometimes strangers who will share your burdens and cares and support you.
  10. Create and sustain community. Reach out to your communities of faith (Pastor(s), Ministers, Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Spiritual Directors). Reaching out doesn’t always mean physical touch. We can also touch others by spirit and using the self. Showing up for one another and being fully present in the moment is an example of the use of self and touching by spirit.
  11. Again, listen compassionately. Practice empathy. You can do this while avoiding close physical contact. Be sensitive and ask permission to come into someone’s personal space.
  12. Send text messages, emails and make phone calls. Check on the people you care about.
  13. Don’t lose your faith. All is not hopeless. Trust and depend upon the Spirit of the Living God that gives us the power to endure. Persist and live fully into the goodness that awaits us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).

The Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy is American Baptist Home Mission Societies’(ABHMS) ecclesiastical endorser and national coordinator of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries. Laura Miraz is ABHMS’ associate executive director of Human Resources Management Services and liaison for ABHMS’ board of directors.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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