Quarantine Queries, #1: What do I do with my anxiety?

I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart…
And to try to love the questions themselves, 
as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don’t search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then,
someday far in the future,
you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke
During this global pandemic, the whole world seems to have turned upside down. The city I live in has issued a “shelter-in-place” through April 30th. People everywhere are figuring out how to deal with something no one living has ever experienced before. As we all fumble our way through this temporary but drastic challenge to business-as-usual, we have so many questions. As a 6 on the Enneagram, I am an expert question-asker. I thought I would start a blog series based on some of the big questions that arise during this uncertain time.

Question #1: What do I do with my anxiety?

Last night, during our virtual gathering with Greater Love Collective, my dear friend shared this quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and guided us through the practice of lectio divina, which involves repeated readings (or listening) of a passage accompanied with meditation and response to the words. On the second reading, the phrase “have patience” leapt out at me. I sat there at my tiny desk, before a computer screen full of 16 other participants on the Zoom call, my eyes closed. I allowed myself to be enveloped by the love that is expressed through having patience with myself during this hard, weird time when I am not always responding to anxiety and (appropriate) fear as I would like to do.

I had been lamenting the difficulty of trying to steal a moment alone to make space for my thoughts and feelings without being interrupted by my children. Today, between interruptions, I felt God leading me to a particular page of a devotional called Jesus Always, by Sarah Young. I opened to the passage for March 4, as I felt directed, and was shocked when I saw that the very first sentence spoke about waiting patiently on the Lord. I was so relieved to find that when I stopped and paid attention, I knew that I knew deep in my spirit that God was paying attention. 
How interesting! I thought. I had assumed that I needed peace in the face of my anxiety, but God is inviting me into patience. And then I realized that peace does not come when I am impatient, scrambling to fix, move on, plan, and make things happen. Peace is not a thing to go get, but rather a thing to allow. It is ever available, though we often need help receiving it.

I am a little rusty on spiritual lessons in crisis, but I am remembering from my postpartum depression days that God can do a whole lot with the briefest of moments when life does not provide the time I wish I had to linger in God’s presence. So for now, in the midst of homeschooling, teaching classes online, mediating conflicts between my children, and generally trying to figure out how to carry on my regular duties during “shelter at home,” I am seizing these brief moments to notice, in the words of the wise Reverend Joseph Stabile, the secular infused with the sacred.

For the first time in the past week, I was able to quiet my mind long enough to relish unhurried time outside with my children, read a book, and lie on my back to look up at the trees. I noticed the shades of green tinted by sunlight and shadows that created a watercolor palette of spring colors. I closed my eyes and listened to the wind rustling the branches above me, felt the breeze move quietly across my face, and let myself be supported by the ground beneath me. Patience with an unprecedented global crisis, absent the need to do anything to fix it in this moment, made room for peace.

When the whole world is telling us that we must scramble and panic and “go get,” may we remember the sacred, ancient practice of allowing. When we allow, we release the temptation to make ourselves responsible for even knowing what we need in a given moment. Instead, we open ourselves to receive the very best that God has to offer us in that moment. Grace and peace to you, my friends.
*I’m much better at updating social media than I am at blogging! Find me over at:
Instagram: @shamelessbibliophile
Facebook: Rooted in Love
Twitter: @LindsayLOconnor

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