Over my forty plus years of adult life, I had said many times, “What in the world is going on?!”  However, Wednesday night as I prepared to settle down to pen this essay before bed, my heart is really heavy.  Tonight, there is an active shooter on the loose in Lewiston, Maine.  When  I heard, I quickly messaged my friend who lived there, to make sure they were safe and I suspected that he and his wife were on his way back to Michigan, but wasn’t sure if they had departed. They had and they were on their way back.  Since the attacks in Israel on October, many of us have been on edge and I think we all feel a sense of “we just might be on the edge of some sort of crisis, hoping and praying that we aren’t”.  On edge for the people of Israel and for the innocent civilians in the area of conflict and also on edge for ourselves as we see the conflict and demonstrations in our own larger cities and on college campuses. We feel for the Jewish students being harassed on the campuses.  We feel for the law enforcement on alert unsure just what their shifts may bring.  We feel for the military and their families well aware that what ever happens in the Middle East will no doubt have an impact on them. For clergy and everyday citizens we fear for our safety and the future of our children…Over the last two weeks, I have heard a world used on several television shows, podcasts and radio programs, “NEFARIOUS” defined as. “Criminal, evil, wicked or malicious.”  I think that word fits so much going on in the world right now.  Yes, the world is turned upside down and it seems as if bad is good and good is bad…

I don’t know  what the answers are in solving THESE problem.  The history of the Middle East is a complicated subject made up of so many factors, culture, oil, religion, jealousy, envy and deep, generational hatred.  The problems of our own country is a list longer than my leg from lack of parental involvement, a decline of a father in the home with children, people falling away from their faith and families, neighbors who don’t know their neighbors, poor school performance, mental health issues, financial distress, a non-existent border and drugs, just to name a few. 

     Here’s what I do know.  When times are tough or I feel that my heart is sad, it is comforting to hear the voice of a trusted family member or friend.  This week alone, I have had two very meaningful phone calls from people who mean a lot to me, an email and back and forth from a longtime Chief Friend, messaging/texting cousins and friends, lunch with two friends I hadn’t connected with in a few months and a really nice conversation with a friend from high school that left me leaving Kroger that I am not alone in my concern for our world and the future for our children and grandchildren. When I hug up the phone after the calls, finished the email, texts, Facebook private messages, communications, the problems were still there, but I felt lighter.  I felt that I am alone in my questions and sadness.  To hear a friendly voice, feel the love in the texts, emails and messages and hugs in person were just that, a hug for my heart and mind.  

     I heard a tv commentator interviewing a Presidential candidate who said that there is a mental health crisis in our country with so many issues weighing on people’s hearts and minds.  What the actual statistics on that, I don’t know and cannot speak to that, however, what I do know is that we are disconnected from one another in many ways and not on purpose.  We  get busy and wrapped in our immediate families’ and our own lives because there is only so much time in the day.  By the time we take care of our needs and those of our loved ones, work, make meals care for children or our elderly parents, sleep and maintain ourselves we have little time left for anything else.  We put our earbuds on listen to our music or a podcast, lock our doors, watch our streaming series or movies and we close off the world, all very understandable.  

     With all that is going on in the world right now, there is much uncertainty and shutting the world out it probably what seems like the best thing to do.  There is little we can do to control the big problems of the world.  What you can control, is your own little circle.  I was thinking about this on Sunday night.  “What do I do that will give me comfort in such unstable times?”  Here’s what I came up with…

     -Pray and reach for a good devotional or scripture reading everyday. You probably have different sources to reach for when you want a good spiritual message from the Lord and of course there is the Bible.  The Chosen is a series on Amazon that has recently become very popular, about Jesus’s time on earth.  It’s a good series that gives insight into the stories and characters in the New Testament.   Also, attending regular worship services to be connected to a spiritual community. 

     -Take care of your health, getting regular exercise that is enjoyable for mind and body.  For me, it’s the high intensity body combat and dance classes along with some Pilates and yoga that strengths my body and mind.   Make an effort to regularly eat right, hydrate and get plenty of sleep to be as clear thinking as possible.  The endorphins released during a workout help with mood and give us that good feeling. 

    -Read good literature from inspiring authors to give the mind a break from the heaviness of the problems going on in the world. 

-Listen to some good music, your favorite genre

     -Have a purpose and list each day to keep focused.

     -Try to be helpful and do something for others each day which also helps give purpose to life.  

     -Reach out to your People who make you feel valued and loved, close family and friends who you may not talk to everyday, yet time can go by but when you connect, it’s as if no time has passed.  We each have one another’s back and we just feel one another’s love and concern. 

     -Maintain or begin a hobby that gives your mind a break and something you can get lost in like painting, knitting, baking or really anything that gives you pleasure or allows for creativity.  Many of these activities are also good for brain activity too. 

     -Consider making the effort to gather a few friends or couples, families together to have fellowship for dinner, dessert or a happy hour just to connect.  

When we feel connected, and loved we don’t feel alone in the uneasy times.  Reach out for yourself and for others.  We all are citizens of this world and we need to look out for one another and realize that there is safety in numbers.  Reach out to the neighbor who may not have family close by, or who are going through tough times, pay attention to thosewho may need a phone call or a “check in” with.  Try to make as many great days as possible and bring a few people along with you.  We’re stronger together than alone. 

Mary Yana Burau