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Living Through the Pandemic and Looking For Hope by Tina Neyer

May 29, 2020

A few days ago, I stepped out of my front door to take a walk. For years, one of my paths has been around Northern Kentucky where I live. It’s hilly, gets the heart pumping, and I could do it blind-folded. So when I debated with myself overtaking the route or striking out on another path, I listened to a voice within that said, take the road you know.

With earbuds in, I played a podcast featuring Richard Rohr and a discussion on the meaning of deep time. The words eternity, afterlife, and belief swirled in my head. I came upon a Luna Moth on the sidewalk that likely died when I was three miles into my walk. Because of its beauty, I wanted to know more. So I did some research.

A caterpillar lives for a month, eats as many leaves from hickory, sweetgum, paper birch, and walnut trees as it can stomach. Then it weaves a cocoon that encases its transformative time over the next three weeks. At which point, the Luna Moth, with its kite-like, luminescent green wings, two eye-like brown spots at the shoulders of the wings, and cigar-sized and dried tobacco-colored body emerge.

It doesn’t have a mouth, doesn’t eat. It’s a favorite meal for a bat but uses long trailing wings in a swirl of activity to throw the bat’s sonar off. If lucky, it lives a long life of 1 week.

What is so mystical about the one I encountered the other day is this. I’d been listening intently to the podcast. The moth’s immovable presence on my path sent me the message that the difficult nature of how we’ve all been living over the last several months has its gifts as well as challenges.

Writing is a critical tool for helping you get through this crisis of time and faith. Journal writing gives direction to a seemingly endless time continuum where nothing seems to change; our minds are consumed by the virus. Here are a few tips to approach this type of writing.

  1. Write in your journal at the same time every day, whether it is first thing in the morning, after lunch or mid-afternoon. Pick a time and stick to it.
  2. Keep a notebook by your bedside to write a gratitude list before settling yourself to sleep.
  3. Before your pen hits the page to write, take three deep breaths, clear your mind, and, once you start writing, don’t let your pen leave the page until you’ve exhausted every thought.
  4. In the beginning, if you are having trouble focusing, set a timer for 10 minutes and write to that amount of time. Over the coming weeks, challenge yourself to a little more time each week.
  5. Remember, there is no wrong way to write, as long as you write with an open heart and mind.

Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  1. Make a quick list of the biggest challenges you have to face in the next minute, hour, morning, or day. Don’t let it overwhelm you. If you feel upset about any of the challenges, write about why you feel upset.
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 my happiness level right now is___because…. Write for 10 minutes to explain why.
  3. Let your mind step away from this very moment and remember other hurdles you have conquered. Now put on your imaginary cape, and write about your journey to overcome those hurdles, how you were the hero of your own problem and solved the issue.
  4. Write about your evening routine. Is it the same every night? If so, write about the good, the bad, the ugly, and then write what it would look like if you could change things.

I crossed paths with the Luna Moth the other day for at least one reason. The podcast I had been listening to, reminded me that we each have different perspectives on living and dying. The moth’s journey from caterpillar through chrysalis to an astoundingly beautiful creature whose purpose is unknown to me reminds me that transformations can be very mysterious. We don’t know what comes from our current situations. Will we be encased in a silken tomb only to emerge changed by a period of time and conditions beyond ourselves.

Be well, stay safe and sane, and write your way through to understanding the depth of your own experience. Hopefully you will emerge with the greater knowledge that you are worthy of future beauty and strength beyond your current circumstance.