Sunday, January 17, 2021

Gratitude and Clarity during COVID - by Elizabeth Venart

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for by ability to continue doing meaningful work that I love. I am grateful for the beauty of the natural world that has sustained me through walks and time outside, looking at the sky and trees and flowers and birds. I am grateful for the wonderful community of practitioners at The Resiliency Center. Knowing we were in this together – as we transitioned to offering our services online and as we navigated this tumultuous year – has been a tremendous support.  


What did you take for granted this year?  I tried not to take anything for granted this year. I am filled with gratitude for my ability to buy food and have a safe place to live. I am grateful for my health and the health of everyone I love. I am grateful for every breath I take with ease. I watched with empathy as so many people struggled with the additional devastation of coronavirus – on top of poverty and multitude injustices faced daily. I awoke to the excruciating pain of racial injustice in a deeper and more profound way this year, and I became more committed to my role as an effective ally.  


What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? I see more clearly the privileges I have. I am more courageous to have deep conversations and to do the hard work necessary to educate myself in areas where my knowledge is lacking.  


What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during the months of lockdown? 

I love painting. I used to attend in-person painting workshops periodically, but I hadn’t in many years due to the time and expense involved in traveling. With COVID, the programs moved online. I have participated in three weekend programs so far and have found them deeply meaningful and restorative, a time to go inward and experience a painting retreat from the comfort of my home. These workshops also give me an opportunity to connect with people all over the continent, and I’ve found the community really supportive.  


I also attended live music events online. These included the playful and inspired variety show format of the Gluey Zoomy Show that two friends in New York City host, to daily morning kirtans praying for peace led by Devadas in Brooklyn, and enjoying livestream piano concerts from my talented musician friend Joe Ashlar in New Orleans. 


My passion for poetry was only strengthened during this time. I continue to lead the Rumi and Friends Spiritual Poetry Evening monthly – now online – and was thrilled that people from our area and as far away as California joined us. I also attended several online programs with Irish Poet David Whyte.  


Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time? I really enjoy the changing of the seasons. Without traveling to faraway places to savor the spring and summer flowers, rivers and lakes, and vibrant autumn foliage, I delighted in my own backyard, thoroughly savoring the beauty discovered on daily walks in my neighborhood and nearby parks. Spending time by Zoom playing with the youngest members of my extended family was a true joy. We colored together, told stories, laughed, and played imaginary games. While I missed the time in person, we live at a distance, so virtual “playdates” allowed us to connect much more regularly. I treasured that time together.  


What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you? Everything can change in an instant, and you can find a way to adapt. The simple pleasures aren’t actually simple – They are the very stuff of life. Never underestimate the power of a hug or how truly beautiful it is to be in the physical presence of another human being. Sitting around an outside fire with friends is magical. Routines can foster resiliency – For me, this included daily walks, starting my day with chanting, weekly zoom calls with friends and family, weekly online gatherings with other practitioners at the center, and Friday night movies. Having regular activities to which I could look forward was important – and I didn’t need to leave home to participate.  

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