This message was sent March 14.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
You are very much on our minds and in our hearts at this hour.
We want first to acknowledge the deep concern and uncertainty our Wake Forest community is experiencing with regard to Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please know that our University chaplains, our staff, and our campus ministers are here to support you in any way we can. We cherish each of you.
In light of the pandemic and the escalating rate of contagion, the Office of the Chaplain has determined it would be wise to take an abundance of caution and cancel most of our weekly programs and events.
The good news is that our team is already working on plans to bring faith formation, spiritual support, and mindfulness programming to you in new and creative ways. Additionally, we will seek avenues to provide care and support to our campus community – whether you need direct assistance through the Chaplain’s Emergency Fund or can provide assistance to others. Even as we practice “social distancing,” we will find innovative ways to connect.
The Office of the Chaplain will be in contact with area churches, temples, synagogues, institutional chaplains, and our campus partners to see how we can collectively work together to help one another during this challenging time. We will keep you posted as we have more information to share and as assistance becomes available.
Our chaplains will continue to be available for pastoral care. Please do not hesitate to reach out for support, or if you simply need a listening ear.
In a time of increased fear and isolation, our chaplains, campus ministers, and caring networks play an essential role in keeping our Wake Forest community connected and at peace. A time of pandemic is indeed a time that reminds us of the interconnected web that we all share. Whatever we can do to nurture and strengthen the health of our Wake Forest web in such a critical time is a sure way to live out our motto Pro Humanitate.
Below please find a few spiritual tools to sustain you and to keep us connected during this time of uncertainty.
Caring for Self and Others in Times of Trouble
- Breathe. Breathe. Breathe some more. Take time in your day, at any moment, to take ten deep even breaths. Carve out 5-10 minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness or contemplative prayer. Start here, now, wherever you are.
- Ground yourself in the present moment. Focus your awareness on something real, enduring, or beautiful in your surroundings. Look up often. Discover the wonder and awe that is already here.
- Acknowledge your fears, anxieties, concerns. Offer them up in prayer, if you pray. Write them in your journal. Share them with others. Feel what you feel, honor it, and know that it is not the final word.
- Remember you are not alone. Ever! You are surrounded by care and support. Reach out.
- Create and sustain community. Show up for one another. Listen compassionately. Practice empathy. Even while avoiding “close physical contact,” message the people you care about. Stand with those most vulnerable and those who suffer the brunt of prejudice and fear. Check in on folks.
- Call your mother, father, guardian, mentor, little sibling, long lost friend, colleagues.
- Unplug, judiciously. While staying aware of developments, do not let the Corona-chaos govern you, but forgive yourself when and if it does.
- Practice kindness. There is a temptation in health scares to view others as potential threats. Remember we are in this together. While practicing health guidelines and appropriate caution, remember to engage one another.
- Smile when you can. Bring good deeds and good energy into our world.
- Stay healthy through sleep, diet, exercise. See healing and wellness holistically – mind, body, and spirit.
- Make art. Discover, imagine, engage your hopes and fears, the beauty and ugliness of our world. Write, paint, sing, dance, soar.
- Practice gratitude. In the face of crises, make note of the things for which you are grateful: your breath, the particular shade of the sky at dusk – or dawn. The color blue, the color green, the gifts and strengths you have, other people in your life, the ability to laugh. A pet.
- Connect with your spiritual, religious, humanist, cultural, or other communities. Find strength and solace and power in traditions, texts, rituals, practices, holy times and seasons.
- Pray as you are able, silently, through song, in readings, through ancestors. Remember the long view of history, the rhythms and cycles of nature, the invisible threads that connect us all.
- Practice hope. Trust in the future and our power to endure and persist, to live fully into the goodness that awaits.
— From Alex Levering Kern, Northeastern University, Boston
Wishing you blessings and an abundance of health in the days ahead.
Timothy L. Auman