On March 11, the world changed. That was the day the novel coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic. I never dreamed that in my lifetime we would be facing a pandemic. It is terrifying. I don’t know about you, but I am frightened. None of the movies, TV shows or books in the world could have ever prepared me for our current situation. The rise of the coronavirus has clearly put me in a new place of deep anxiety. For weeks now I have watched from the comfort of my home how others have suffered from this virus. As I write this post, my place of work has implemented, like many institutions, new safety measures of social distancing. In fact, our state is considering shelter in place. There is a new development every hour and I feel helpless.
We all have our usual fears, but mine were quickly eliminated upon the advent of the coronavirus. My deepest fear is my family and fellow humanity not being safe or well. Right now, I am reflecting on what’s important to me in my life and I am taking stock of what is really critical. I never imagined that we would have to experience institutions closing, social distancing, being isolated at home and trying to stockpile supplies. The worst part is worrying that any person, even myself, could be a carrier of the virus without knowing.
We are in a new place as human beings. The action we take now will influence generations to come. What will you do to reduce your fear and figure out how to serve? The best friend of fear is worry. I don’t have the answers but can offer my two cents. What helps me is the Baha’i long obligatory prayer. I have learned that the best time for me to say it is just before bedtime. It takes just 15 minutes of time and takes me from a place of nothingness where my spirit, brain and soul have let go to a place of tranquility. What meditation or prayer do you use?
Another source of solace and comfort are these words from Bahá’u’lláh:
“On the appearance of fearful natural events call ye to mind the might and majesty of your Lord, He Who heareth and seeth all, and say ‘Dominion is God’s, the Lord of the seen and the unseen, the Lord of creation.’”
At this moment, I am reminded to let go of my fear and remember the might and majesty of our creator who is watching over us. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expounded with these words:
“When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.”
When the fear starts to strike in me again, I recite this favorite prayer of mine that my mother taught me, over and over by the Báb. It really is beautiful:
“Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are his servants, and all abide by his bidding!”
What I learn from these passages is that we have an opportunity to let go of our fears and transform them to confidence, patience and bravery. In this crisis, my hope is that we, as a worldwide community, lift each other’s hearts, perform creative and amazing acts of service and love each other. Folks, we are so interdependent and we need each other more than ever. I have learned that many people are using online platforms to create community and finding paths of service. What are you trying? Bahá’u’lláh wrote these words that I think fit for our times:
“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The great being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. ... It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
These are just a few things that are on my mind and what’s keeping me sane through this period. I hope that you’re taking the time to think about what’s important to you and what you need to do to keep you, your family and loved ones safe. The Bahá’i New Year, Náw-Ruz, has begun and I wish you joy and happiness!