“Be healthy, be hopeful” is a phrase that I have used often — in texts, emails, phone conversations and on social media — since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. I have been reflecting on this short 4-word phrase as we begin to venture back into public places and gather for Mass according to safety guidelines.
Health involves physical wellbeing and safety. With the virus, healthy habits include sheltering-in-place, wearing a face covering and social distancing. It has also meant multiple hand washings and not touching your face.
However, health also means having a wholesome mental attitude. Often, I have asked myself, “What gives me joy? What keeps me wholesome … or sane?” The answer is three things:
- My prayer life grounding me, even though sometimes I could only pray that our provident God would deliver us from this terrible virus.
- Keeping a relational aspect with others.
- The good will that I witness in my family, friends and colleagues — albeit virtually.
The book of Romans reminds us “that by endurance and by the encouragement of scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4b) Hope can help sustain us in times of difficulty as we look to something greater than ourselves. God is always inviting you and me to a deeper relationship with him.
Prioritizing my values helps me identify strategies that assist me in being healthy and hopeful. These strategies continue to energize me and I hope they encourage you, too.
- Walk outside, notice what you see, hear, feel, etc. and give thanks to the Lord for your surroundings.
- Exercise to music, whatever genre or generation motivates you.
- Drink more water and wash your hands more often.
- Connect on a deeper level with your friends and family members. You can ask reflective questions or take time to connect to share and pray together.
- Delve deeper into Scripture. Perhaps use the “Pray as you Go” app which incorporates music to the day’s Scripture reading in a Lectio Divina fashion.
- Pray the rosary in a new way. Check out a video reflection on specific mysteries or pray in a new place, like on a walk.
- Listen to new songs for your daily prayer (and sing along if you want). Check out the Holy Spirit Playlist on Spotify or “It is Well” by Bethel Music & Kristene DiMarco.
- It can be as simple as writing down your lows and highs for the day and reflecting on them in prayer.
As you focus on being healthy and hopeful, you will experience a deep joy that in turn can cause others to seek joy as well. You witness can invite others to grow closer to the Lord. What a great gift it is to live our lives in a way that draws us to the Lord and helps others find joy in him as well through our interactions.
Pope Francis reminds us: “Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult it is … Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.”
May you be healthy and hopeful!