“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometime lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”
With all the sadness, loss, pain, isolation and frustration that the Coronavirus has caused, one may wonder how we could possibly hold onto hope. However, despite all the gloom, there are still reasons to feel hopeful.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
1. Nothing Lasts Forever: “This too shall pass.”
“This too shall pass” is a phrase that is highly relevant to this pandemic; other viruses have been and gone and this one will inevitably follow the same course. It will leave us with many and varied feelings, a mixture of celebration, the joy of renewed freedom, desperate grief and terrible loss.
In her book of the same name, the psychotherapist Julia Samuel quotes Heraclitus:
“Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”
The book gives examples of how her patients learn, with her help, to adapt to and survive life’s challenges and difficulties.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Claude Monet – Matinée sur la Seine. Flickr: Gandalf’s Gallery
2. A Crisis Has More Than One Aspect. There Will Be Opportunities.
Perhaps it might seems a little ironical that this is a Chinese phrase, in the current circumstances, but it is, nevertheless, highly relevant.
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
3. Increased Connectedness Will Develop Between People.
“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.”
We will generally make new connections and discover the kindness of strangers and of those we know. It is heartening to see how many volunteers are coming forward to help in all kinds of circumstances.
Communities are singing together on balconies in Italy, people are shopping for those unable to go out, neighbours are getting acquainted, doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement to save lives, countless vital key workers are going above and beyond the call of duty.
People are, quite literally, risking their lives to save others on a daily basis.
We are showing appreciation of each other through organised applause, banners on hedges and messages on social media.
We witness a working together and a shared wish for all of humanity to be safe and healed.
Hope is expressed through drawings of rainbows in windows and banners on garden fences.
In a global sense, we are not this time fighting human beings in the battle against the spread of the virus, we are all on the same side, helping each other.
4. We Will Gain Increased Self Awareness.
Lucien Freud – Self-portrait, Reflection. Flickr: Gandalf’s gallery.
“But there was a special kind of gift that came with embracing the chaos, even if I cursed most of the way. I’m convinced that, when everything is wiped blank, it’s life’s way of forcing you to become acquainted with and aware of who you are now, who you can become. What is the fulfillment of your soul?”
Freud’s analytical approach to his self-portrait reveals every aspect of his countenance, almost extending, translucently, to below the skin’s surface, so self-penetrating is his painterly reach.
For us all, after several months of inevitable self-focus, in this time of crisis, there will develop more self-knowledge. This will happen both in relation to our physical reflection and our psychological aspects.
Living alone, though it may not be the state you ultimately desire for yourself, affords an unparalleled opportunity to know yourself, to be yourself, and to develop yourself as a unique and interesting individual.
We will come to understand ourselves in this new situation; how we react to isolation, lockdown, crisis. Most of us have never experienced a global crisis that can compare with this.
5. We Have Time to Reflect And Change.
Henri le Sidaner – The Village Table, Gerberoy. Gandalf’s Gallery Flickr.
“Through each crisis in my life, with acceptance and hope, in a single defining moment, I finally gained the courage to do things differently.”
We will surprise ourselves, finding new ways round large and small problems; domestic, psychological or physical issues will need addressing in new ways. Our lives have been pared down; we are learning to think differently, to act differently.
Can we manage without this food item, this product, this activity? Can we cut our own hair, teach our own children, live in solitude, or cope with existing exclusively with one other person?
“In a time of crisis, one returns to the basics, to the simple fundamentals which support and sustain life.”
Henri Matisse – Blue Pot and Lemon  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Over time, through all this, we will gain in wisdom, strength, fortitude and learn new perspectives on life in general.
“Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.”
Carl Holsöe – Girl in an Interior .Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Peter Vilhelm Ilsted – Looking out the Window  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“The most fortunate of us all in our journey through life frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which greatly afflict us. To fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives.”
6. We Will Become More Creative
“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”
Vilhelm Hammershøi – The Artist’s Easel 
Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Newton discovered calculus whilst in quarantine from plague. Who knows what will emerge creatively from this pandemic?
“Sometimes crisis triggers the genius within.”
7. The Natural World Is Coming Back To The Land We Have Taken From It.
Let us ponder the old poem below; in this moment, it may remind us that, usually, we do not have time to stand and stare……
Leisure. William Henry Davies.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Nordic summer’s evening. Richard Bergh. Wikimedia Commons.
Things are different now. Into our consciousness comes birdsong, louder than ever, no longer drowned out by the rumble of our vehicles, our industry, our lives.
Here come the sheep and goats, down from the hills and there are the foxes, out of the woods, timidly at first, wandering through territory that was once all theirs, reclaiming, if only temporarily, a little of their past……..
The church bells ring out, clear now, unmuffled. The soundscapes of our towns and cities have changed.
The air is clearer, the river is cleaner, silence has returned to our gardens and streets. Silence, except for the honking of the geese overhead; we have not seen these before, flying so low, newly staking their claim to the space above our garden.
As we walk locally, perhaps we are noticing more of the little details around us. Look! here is some wild garlic, growing beneath a hedge at the edge of the road!
We can catch its distinctive scent it now; previously we have only driven by, too fast, too busy to see it.
Excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donoghue (2008)
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.