Dear ones, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It seems like every time we tune in to news, we receive another blow. The risk of burning out, shutting down or stressing out is real. Like Dorothy Day, one of my heroes, I keep thinking of this verse from Ezekiel: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” We want to keep a soft heart and an open spirit, but how do we stay vulnerable without being beaten down? Here are a few tips that I find work when I remember to use them.
(1) Be selective and strategic about the news. It’s important for folks who want to be engaged in the world to be informed, but when the news is so full of disasters, threats, and scandals, it can stop being informative and be destructive instead. For example, when an elected official says something particularly outrageous reading about it can provide a short burst of energy–righteous rage has that effect. But like most short bursts of energy, it usually recedes quickly and leaves us depressed and depleted. It’s better to avoid those stories and focus on a few key issues you want to know about.
(2) Know the signs of when you are hitting overload and get yourself out of that situation if you possibly can.
(3) Build sweetness and happiness in to your days, every day. Go someplace you find beautiful and peaceful, do something you love, be with people who make you happy. Half an hour’s connection with the things that give you peace and love is like an inoculation against the world’s hurts.
(4) Take action in one, manageable, concrete way. The purpose of this post is not to rustle up donations, but if it eases your heart to know you have done something to help–and I am pretty sure it will–do that something. Here are a few sites related to the ills of the past few weeks.
Neighbor to Neighbor (from a UU minister serving in the US Virgin Islands)
UUA Disaster Relief Fund (helping post-Harvey, Irma, and Maria; also channeling funds to those affected by the North Bay fires)
(5) If you, like Ezekiel, talk to God, or pray in some way, do. Pray to whatever force you believe can give you a heart of flesh when your heart is growing hard like stone, and a new spirit when yours gets worn out. At moments like these, I sit quietly and open my hands in front of me like a bowl. Sometimes I can feel something new and lifegiving pouring in.
What else do you find helps you when events threaten to make you feel helpless? Send them to me (email@example.com) and I’ll share them.
Peace, love, faith, hope,