We have to wear a mask. We have to social distance. We have to get vaccinated. We have to stay home except for essentials. We have to avoid crowds, restaurants, parties, gatherings, traveling. But do we have to be depressed?
I just read in today’s New York Times that Covid-19 depression is rampant across the globe. In Russia, a man believing the pandemic to be a conspiracy, opened gun fire at a government office, killing two people because he was ordered to wear a mask. In Italy and France anxiety has doubled since Covid. In Germany surveys show loneliness and depression have increased significantly. The same is true for Italy, France China and many other nations, including the U.S. where one in a hundred people over age 65 have died of Covid. We feel we’ve been hearing, reading about, and suffering with Covid long enough. It wants to run (or ruin?) our lives. Can it?
There is an alternative.
Actually, an alterative (“A medicine that gradually induces a change in the habit or constitution and restores healthy functions”): to think about who we really are, beyond mortal bodies riveted by disease and despair. To think about others. To pray for tornado-victim Kentuckians, Afghan women, homeless immigrants, and those suffering locally or world-wide. We can act to help in whatever ways come to us–service or a small check to help victims with overwhelming needs. We can write, and pray for, our Congressmen and women for whom honesty and democracy seem to have melted away. We can pray for each other and for ourselves. Basically, we can pray. And if we don’t know how to pray now’s a good time to learn.
It has been said that earnest desire is prayer. What are we desiring? What is our focus?
It has been said that gratitude is prayer. What are we grateful for? How do we show thanks?
It has been said that being in nature is prayer. Have we studied the star-filled sky, watched a sunset, wandered a pine forest, climbed a mountain lately, learning their lessons?
Prayer is not a mere duty or rattling off of words. Rather it is quiet communion with our Creator, an appreciation of God’s power, presence, and love.
Prayer is not a pleading but a yearning–a striving–to deeply know God as Love, as Life.
Prayer is putting into practice in daily life that which Christ Jesus, Moses, the prophets, and others divinely inspired, taught.
Prayer is having the self-discipline to follow law–God-given precepts, statutes, commandments, and moral principles.
Prayer is love. Being love. Knowing love. Living love. Loving neighbors and “enemies” alike. Loving ourselves. Loving our real Parent, God.
Prayer is growing into the better men and women we truly are because–separate from our mortality–we are spiritual, made in God’s image and likeness.
Prayer is unselfish, not asking for what we want, but consciously seeking God’s goodness.
Prayer is beautiful, not rote recitation. Like music or art, prayer flows beyond the surface–a current running Spirit-ward.
Like a little child–innocent, eager, pure–prayer can be simple, not complicated.
Like a dear dog–loyal, companionable wherever we go–prayer is always by our side.
Like an eagle–soaring above the tallest tree–prayer carries us above mortal gloom into spiritual peace.
Like a feast–always supplying our need–prayer feeds us at a stoplight, or in an emergency, or in quiet solitude.
Prayer always comforts, speaks truth to error, holds your hand.
A doctor might say, “Take two pills and call me in the morning.” Alternatively, an alterative might be to “Study two ageless healing prayers and have peace by morning.” Here’s two:
The 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6: 9-13): Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
About the Artwork: Nature’s Peace, pastel. This work was done on location, en plein air, in Pennsylvania, not far from Shawnee-on-Delaware where I once lived and had Shawnee Falls Studio, Gallery & Guesthouse. Nearby was McDade Trail where this scene was executed.