When I worked on the pastoral staff at Pinnacle Presbyterian in Scottsdale, one of my clergy colleagues was Sarah Johnson. Sarah moved from Pinnacle to serve on the staff the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas. I stumbled across her blog, “Spiritual Practices During a Pandemic” earlier this week. I liked it and thought you would as well.

“Now that most of us staying home, working from home, parenting from home, educating our children from home, many of the rituals that ground our lives are missing. In this new reality, life can feel like one endless day, each hour bleeding into the next. Life without those familiar rituals and rhythms is often exhausting. As I climbed into bed the other night, I felt like I had run a marathon in a single day.

“In this season, develop or hold onto some of the rituals of your day. Pour and drink your morning coffee. If you are at your office at a certain hour, maybe consider holding to that time at home. I also find that it is also helpful to develop some rituals around my spiritual life to ground me and offer God’s grace at the beginning and end of the day.

“In the morning, take five minutes to light a candle and offer prayers for those that come to your heart. You can practice this alone, with a friend or partner, or as a family. As Rev. Mark Brainerd reminded us on PHPC’s Thursday morning Facebook Live prayer service, lighting a candle is a good reminder of the steadfastness of God’s presence with us in all things.

“At the close of the day, spend a few minutes naming or writing down the things from today that you are most grateful for and least grateful for. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, identified this practice as the Daily Examen, a brief practice of giving thanks to God and discerning those things where God is giving us life. These kinds of practices not only give a steadying form to our days, they “fill up our spiritual cups,” so to speak.

Disengage from your Devices for a Period

“One sage piece of advice that I now live by came from Duke Divinity School professor Kate Bowler. Reflecting on her times in the hospital Kate joked, “Nothing good happens between 9pm and 7am.” She noticed that these were times when her mind tended to wander and worry, and that trusting her inner dialogue during these moments was unwise.

“Similarly, I find late at night or early in the morning are times when I don’t make good decisions, I am not on solid footing, and I cannot trust my inner voice. This also means these are times when I try and avoid accessing technology and social media. Even as technology helps us with much needed connection in this time of social distancing, place boundaries around when nd how often you are checking in on your devices. Take breaks without your phone or access to the next news update.”

Get Outside

“While we are now restricted to staying away from our work, school, and all places of business we can still go outside. There are plenty of studies that show the psychological benefits of being outdoors including the prevention or reduction of stress, improved self-esteem, confidence and creativity, and spiritual growth. If you are able, take a run or a walk in the neighborhood, play in your yard, find a moment to sit outside, or open a window. Spending time in God’s creation is good for our bodies and our souls.

Celebrate the Little Things

“This evening, I took my dog on a long walk—without my cell phone. At one point, I stopped for a moment to stretch. I reached down to touch my toes and as I came back up, I noticed the trunk of the tree in front of me had all these cute tiny snails, hundreds of them, inching their way up the tree trunk. There were also new buds forming on the ends of the branches, and tiny pink flowers were emerging. The whole thing was a small picture of the abundance of God’s creation.

“There is power in recognizing and giving thanks for the little things in life. This week, pay attention to these things. If I take the time, I find life is full of tiny miracles and moments worth celebrating. Whether it is the perfect cup of coffee, the smile of a child, the smell of the fresh air or the spring flowers, I find God showing up everywhere.

“As the circumstances of the Corona virus continue to develop, it is becoming increasingly clear that this season is a marathon not a sprint. We have not days but weeks and months ahead of us. I wonder what practices are giving you peace and spiritual grounding in these strange days?”

I wonder what spiritual practices have grounded you in this time of travail. Email me and I will share them with our congregation.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace. Amen.