I know, what is she thinking?!
In the season of giving thanks, let’s look back at the last two years and acknowledge that some of the changes, unbelievably, resulted in gratitude. The list will likely surprise us.
I’ll go first by saying that learning about the resilience of the human spirit has brought me to my knees. Early on, the balcony singers in Italy, and more recently those who endure an ongoing, evil war have taught me about the incredible human spirit. Reminisce with these touching photos that give us hope.
Here are some other unexpected blessings of the pandemic:
- Seeing how other folks use creativity, resourcefulness and healthy rebellion to achieve what they are here to do. Maybe they didn’t know it or even imagine it. But they wrote books to make the world a better place, reached out to help others with a hug or to offer a needed service, and shifted their thinking in ways that were previously unthinkable.
- Being aware of discrimination against other humans — race, gender, economic status, political choice and choosing to be intentional about changing it.
- Anchoring ourselves in truth. As an editor for many years, it was my nature to check the accuracy of everything that went out in the name of the organization or a client. But now, truth saturates my soul, literally.
- Realizing how important kindness is. If you’ve been treated kindly at unexpected moments (or times you know you didn’t deserve it), it’s God’s grace and hand at work, and it matters. Pass it on.
- Using time to good advantage. In our home, early in the pandemic I jumped on the sourdough bread bandwagon and have kept up a good pace. This is no small achievement, folks. In online groups I met a lot of kindred spirits and even shared my starter with a few local friends. The learning path is hard to navigate alone. Once we’ve been on the receiving end of others’ generosity, at some point it makes sense to shift gears and cheer someone else on. And baking bread for those you love is a pleasure, so it’s also a gift to share.
- Reading poetry. Isn’t it lovely how many poets have shed light on the daily chaos? I’m thinking of Amanda Gorman and Joy Harjo, and how their words embrace these challenging times and point us to hope, to love.
- Defining our own mortality: Berkeley educator Sara Orem writes: “Due both to the alarming numbers of people contracting COVID and the resulting numbers of my own contemporaries who have died, I am much more aware of my own death, whether it comes sooner or later. Even here though, the hosts found joy.”
On many levels, the world is our new community, whether on Zoom, social media or in the pages of a book. Native American elder and Episcopal bishop Steven Charleston inspires me (and 35,000 others) with his daily spiritual reflections on Facebook. And he will be the first to tell you, this was a blessing he didn’t expect.
Charleston likens this time to being in a kiva and how spiritually climbing up a ladder will get us to the light: “Darkness will not last forever. Together we can climb toward the light.”
Speaking of the Native Americans, he writes: “They were as troubled as we, our ancestors, those who came before us, and all for the very same reasons: fear of illness, a broken heart, fights in the family, the threat of another war. Corrupt politicians walked their stage, and natural disasters appeared without warning. And yet they came through, carrying us within them, through the grief and struggle, through the personal pain and the public chaos, finding their way with love and faith, not giving in to despair but walking upright until their last step was taken. My culture does not honor the ancestors as a quaint spirituality of the past but as a living source of strength for the present. They did it and so will we.”
Never doubt that you and I are here for a reason. That’s the biggest blessing of all.
Phawnda Moore is a Northern California artist and award-winning author of Lettering from A to Z: 12 Styles & Awesome Projects for a Creative Life. In living a creative life, she shares spiritual insights from traveling, gardening and cooking. Find her on Facebook at Calligraphy & Design by Phawnda and on Instagram at phawnda.moore.
Other articles in this series:
‘We’re so blessed!’ | Opinion by Mark Wingfield
Blessing is not about good fortune; it is akin to God’s love | Opinion by Ann Bell Worley
Original blessing, the #blessed hashtag, and what it really means to be blessed | Opinion by Andrew Daugherty
When being a ‘blessing’ comes with some baggage | Opinion by Amber Cantorna
Seeing mortality as a blessing | Opinion by Cynthia Astle
Blessed by life’s diversions | Opinion by Jeff Hampton
Blessing is naming what is true | Opinion by Erin Robinson Hall
The blessing of provocation | Opinion by Molly T. Marshall
Blessed to be a blessing, globally | Opinion by Erich Bridges
When you count your blessings, what do you count? | Opinion by Barry Howard