Lakeia Brown is a senior producer, race and culture, for ABC Audio. This is a personal essay about how she's coping with the coronavirus crisis by turning inward and leaning on her faith.
"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
I first read these beautifully strung together words from Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata" 20 years ago. My best friend gifted me an illustrated book of the prose poem for college graduation, and it has become a source of peace and comfort when life doesn't makes sense.
Today, more than ever, I reflect on this truth. In my tiny humanness and finite mind, I haven't yet been able to make sense of the global loss or the tremendous impact of COVID-19, but my faith in God and in the divine order of the universe whispers to me, "Trust."
The sun rose this morning.
The birds did their synchronized dance in the sky.
The leaves on the trees have bloomed.
The Earth is still spinning on its axis.
Nature is in perfect harmony.
You are alive.
Yes, you and billions of people around the world are still alive -- full of life's energy. In times of great loss, grief, fear and uncertainty we sometimes forget these incredible gifts, and instead focus solely on the pain.
I've been reflecting on how much time I've wasted in my life overthinking, over planning, and over explaining, while undervaluing relationships and experiences that call me to be more vulnerable.
But pain and love can exist together. In fact, they bear witness to each other. We are allowed to grieve for the sick, mourn with loved ones who have experienced loss and have heavy hearts for the brave souls on the front line, and yet still honor the gift of life right now by being present with peace, love and joy.
Over the past three weeks, I've felt guilty for appreciating the isolation and the opportunity to reflect. I can't go out, so I decided to go in. Inward. I've seen a return to myself, connecting to my spirit on a deeper level.
My thoughts, words, and work have been more intentional. I'm paying closer attention to my mental and physical health, listening with love to the messages my body has been trying to communicate but I've been too busy to listen. And in between all of the home-cooked meals (finally!) and homemade (gasp!) avocado and honey facial masks, I've been reflecting on how much time I've wasted in my life overthinking, over planning and over explaining, while undervaluing relationships and experiences that call me to be more vulnerable, to be more human. To be more present.
Like many people, I find myself dreaming of the day when I can just get back to normal. Anticipating the day I can leave my New York City apartment to go somewhere -- anywhere -- other than the grocery store.
But then I wonder about this magical "normal."
How can we return to the lives we once lived, when we ourselves will be so different? If any great tragedy exists in part to shift the collective consciousness and change humanity, how could we ever "return to life as usual"?
Ultimately, focusing on a "tomorrow" that has never promised us to be yesterday, is merely an escape from the now. And I'm tired of running. There are lessons and gifts that only the present moment can offer.
As for tomorrow, it will take care of itself, as it always has.