On the night of 8 September, 2020 flames engulfed Europe’s largest refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece leaving 13,000 people homeless. With no physical space to absorb the communities, thousands trickled into the gaping hills nearby while one concrete capillary opening ushered others onto streets of the surrounding village. Few had warning; all fled. Within hours, Moria Camp disappeared into ash. As plumes of smoke shifted into shadows the morning after, families looked at each other in wonder: where do we go from here?
For refugees in Moria Camp, uncertainty shaped every hour of every day. Food, water, shelter: from where will they come and when? Basic necessities we assume to be sustainable and accessible in our lives are for the residents of Moria’s dust and dirt questions that remain on tips of tongues as if a memory they can’t quite collect.
Though we may exist in a life much different from theirs, the fog of insecurity fueled by uncertainty shapes us all.
As autumn leaves hit our doorsteps, the change we expected to appear in hues of yellow is already stark red. Like the embers which sparked acute shifts in Greece, we’re pushed by events around us to accept change in an atmosphere saturated by ambiguity. Our minds have been working overtime this year, our bodies are tired, and emotions are spent.
From the White House to my house, we’ve been triggered by fear spurred by shifting politics, racism, recession, pandemic, and more. We’ve been tried and tested in all of the five SCARF domains, leaving many of us more insecure and less certain of our next steps than ever before.
In this period, the challenge is not to run but to stand with the transitioning pieces of work and personal life to greet, digest, and process the changes at-hand. We may be scared amidst uncertainty and change, but that’s ok. This is a natural process; to ignore it would be to attempt to control the uncontrollable.
Breathe. See it. Recognize it. And Walk through it.
To be present in our fear is facing the uncertainty of the moment while welcoming the novelty of the unknown.
As we reflect on the past months, we’re invited also to explore 2020’s scars on those around us. Witness how the results of an election affect one person differently than another; that the loss of a loved one, a job, or quarantine drove some to self-isolation and others to self-reflection. Understand that we are each affected in our own ways and collectively impacted as a whole.
As we move forward, remember that in all of this – you are not alone.
(Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash)
We are working together — a collective of humans navigating hard times in our own ways yet should-to-shoulder in the struggle. To support ourselves is therefore to support the people around us. It is to approach strangers, clients, colleagues, and friends in ways that illustrate compassion and empathy flanked by sincerity and compassion. It is to be human.
Krista Tippett invites us to embody this through tailoring our communication based on six grounding virtues of spiritual technologies and tools for the art of living:
- Words that Matter – sharing words with power that convey real truth
- Hospitality – creating an inviting, trustworthy space — an atmosphere as much as a place
- Humility – encouraging others to be big
- Patience – committing to move through the world as it is, not as we wish it to be
- Generous Listening – understanding the humanity behind the words of the other
- Adventurous Civility – creating new possibilities for living forward while being different
It is through employing virtues like these that we can see the full benefit of the challenges we’ve undergone. It’s being present with one another that we can find solace and groundedness in ourselves.
As the last sheet of the calendar falls off a year that feels unending, let’s rally around our humanity, and not allow fear to drive us into further isolation or paralysis. Let this year and its uncertainty be the catalyst of discovering new ways to connect — even if through a computer screen.
A quote recently shared with me written by historian Bernice Reagan says this well: “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
We are together unsure of what will happen in 2021. It is exactly in this uncertainty that we grow, and that we are encouraged even more to reach out, explore who we are, and seek ways to build to-gether-ness. As families, communities, cities, and countries — in 2021, we get to create something good from the challenges of 2020.
Here’s to you, the New Year, and to growing through uncertainties.
Interested in exploring how to manage your reactions, and better connect with others in collective action? Schedule a call with Kim.
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