Doing the Limbo

Anyone who’s attended an old-time dance party knows the Limbo Rock.  The popular dance asks us to shimmy ourselves below a bar without knocking it over.

Succeeding at the Limbo Rock doesn’t require the coolest moves.  It requires the most dexterity and flexibility, which we also need to dance the Limbo of Life.

Literally, limbo means being between here and there, neither in nor out, on nor off, when we don’t know what’s next.  Limbo is an uncertain, indefinite time of waiting. 

Millions live in limbo these days, as our governments, institutions, and organizations attempt to determine new standards of safety and well-being.  Perhaps, you’ve noticed, Blessed Reader, few of them agree about these standards.  So, we’ve reached one of life’s waystations where we’re left to discern our new normal. 

During this time, spiritual maturity helps us remain patient as we renew our faith and build our spiritual strength.  Rather than fuss about waiting, force things to happen, or hide in terror, dexterity and flexibility let us:

  • Enjoy time in stillness and silence.  Sit, rest, gaze at artwork on the walls or flowers in the garden, pet the dog, cradle a child.  If we believe that we aren’t doing anything, remember that all spiritual masters became that way because they knew how to be still and wait.
  • Connect, at least weekly, with a prayer partner and BFF.  Share gratitude for the present and imagine hope for the future.
  • Honor our bodies.  Get enough sleep, exercise, and nourishment.  Take necessary medications.  If we are ill, all our energy and attention turns to healing.  If we’re caregivers in any capacity, we honor ourselves and others best when we choose self-care first.  None of us can give from an empty well.
  • Honor our feelings, especially sadness, grief, and confusion.  Many of us are experiencing losses, so cry as needed.  Tears aren’t a sign of weakness; they mean our hearts are open and we’re mourning something we love.
  • Tackle a task we’ve avoided, especially if it will bring ease.  If we need assistance, many professionals including accountants, attorneys, mental health counselors, and organizers are glad to work virtually.  Research recommendations from trusted friends.
  • Embrace a creative activity or learn a new skill.  Countless online classes are available, and libraries and museums offer an abundance of free, virtual resources.
  • Schedule playtime.  No attempts to accomplish anything.  Just have fun.  Find board games the whole family can enjoy like Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders.  Or use an old-fashioned deck of cards to play Canasta, Gin, or Go Fish.
  • Appreciate the simple gifts of good health, safe shelter, comfortable clothes, and a full belly.

Overall, know that even when our lives seem to be “on-hold,” we still have the inner power and intuition to choose our next steps.  Especially, remember that God in the midst of us is assurance and wisdom as we remain open to the best paths ahead.

© 2020 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.  Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay.

What’s Happening Now

During a difficult life transition, I fretted about outcomes, sometimes feeling as if I’d spin out of control.   Fortunately, I attended a weekly sangha, and our group meditations anchored my faith.  One day, I admitted my fears to our teacher, Maggie.  She acknowledged them, then reminded me to stay present to my new life unfolding.  “It’ll be all right,” she assured me.  “This is just what’s happening now.”

More than 20 years later, Maggie’s wisdom still resonates because it’s a hallmark of spiritual maturity: When we accept what’s happening now, we remember that we control little more than ourselves in life, so we can choose how we’ll flow with what is.

To find comfort in what’s happening now, we can:

  • Remain anchored in our contemplation, meditation, prayer, and reflection practices.  Breathe deep, belly breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Concentrating on our breath relaxes our minds and calms our racing heartbeats, anytime, anywhere.
  • Do daily chores mindfully.  Everything from peeling an orange and inhaling the scent to humming a favorite tune as we wash our hands is a grounding, mindfulness practice.
  • Limit long-range planning, pushing for long-term commitments, or rushing to make decisions.  Focus on present needs such as completing today’s projects and buying this week’s groceries.
  • Dive into a creative activity: carving, coloring, gardening, knitting, painting, sculpting, etc.  Work it step by step, noting accomplishments daily.
  • Avoid instant gratification which may lead to later regrets.  Ask: “How will I feel about this next week, next month, next year?  Am I willing to wait?  What other choices might I have?”  Then list all the choices we discern are best now.
  • Halt dramas and conversations about how awful or difficult life is, how hard we are/aren’t working, or what someone else is/isn’t doing.
  • Beware offering or accepting unsolicited advice.  As soon as we say or hear, “You should,” we likely need to pause and re-examine our intentions.  This applies to our inner voice, too.  No “shoulding” on ourselves; we’re doing the best we can.
  • Get out of bed, no tossing and turning, if we awaken early, anywhere from 3:00 to 6:00 AM.  During these “God Hours,” we’re most attuned to Spirit and our inner creativity, so they’re sacred times for extra meditation, study, or crafting.
  • Acknowledge grief and loss.  Those moments which seem like we’re walking through pools of molasses or crying for no reason are ways we mourn.  Even if we feel silly, we can find comfort in hugging a pillow or stuffed animal, digging in the dirt, singing at the top of our lungs, pounding bread dough, or skipping around the neighborhood.
  • Be physically distant for safety and well-being, but stay socially connected by phone, text, email, social media, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.  Plan virtual visits to share meals, play music, dance, or continue book group discussions.

Remember, especially, that life sorts itself out.  As we remain faithful, present to what’s happening now without attaching to it, we discover simple joys in things as they are.  And as a new season unfolds, we can let the journey carry us to what’s next, trusting that this too shall pass.

© 2020 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved. – Image by Angeles Balaguer from Pixabay

Faith and Sensibility

One winter, the entire high school where I taught shared an ailment.  It started with laryngitis, though no physical discomfort.  Then it became a cough and a chest cold, which led to bronchitis for me.  When I saw the doctor, he said it was viral, not bacterial.  An antibiotic would do nothing; I needed to boost my immune system, rest my body, and ride it out.  Which I did, slowly, faithfully, day by day, long into spring.

Our faith helps us ride things out and assures us that “this too shall pass,” just as other things have.  Yet, our sensibility, the power to gauge and monitor our reactions and behaviors, determines how we ensure our safety and well-being so we can function and thrive, even during trying times.

Amid tremendous anxiety about coronavirus, bear markets, and dysfunctional political systems, we can behave sensibly by:

  • Refraining from hoarding.  Hoarding is fear-based belief centered in lack.  If we’re concerned about our supplies, we can take a gratitude inventory of food, medicine, personal care items, and/or bank balances, specifically noting how much we have to sustain us.
  • Being gentle with ourselves.  No matter our current health, this isn’t a time to rail against the healthcare system or worry that we didn’t wash our hands long enough.  Instead, we can focus all our attention on renewing our life energy, building our strength, giving ourselves time to heal, blessing our bodies, and savoring peaceful sleep.
  • Beginning and ending our days with prayer and meditation.  Breathe deeply, chant mantras, count blessings, give thanks.  When we pray, let’s include our world leaders, the media, and all those working to mitigate and eradicate disease.
  • Connecting with loved ones.  If needed, create a buddy system, agreeing to check-in daily to say, “Hi,” “I love you,” “I feel better today,” or share other good news.  No fear-mongering or pity-parties allowed.
  • Avoiding all “ain’t-it-awful,” “the sky is falling” dramas.  Remain focused on the present and what can be done today.
  • Choosing a few specific times — never at mealtime or bedtime — to check news, financial markets, and social media.  Set a 15-minute limit; then log off.
  • Checking facts and figures before sharing information, so we don’t inadvertently spread rumors.  Check at least 3 reliable, vetted sources that conduct their own research.
  • Getting outside into sunshine and fresh air.  Commune with nature by digging in the garden or raking leaves.  Sky gaze and track moon phases.  All these extend our view beyond ourselves and give us a broader perspective of life.
  • Scheduling time for exercise, fun and laughter.  Play games, cook a favorite meal, binge-watch some comedy, read a new novel, color, draw, paint, dance, and sing.

Overall, remember that even though we desire certainty, much of life is uncertain and change is inevitable.  As we remain patient and flexible, we’re less flustered and more adaptable as schools close, events cancel, or circumstances alter.  With faith, we remain sensible about our choices, and day by day we discover that gentle, consistent pacing guides our way.

© 2020 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved. – Image by Florence D. from Pixabay