“Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”― William Shakespeare

We have been “social distancing” for a while and now are in quarantine due to this coronavirus. It has been a trying time for all of us. Hospitals and medical providers are carrying the brunt of this crisis. Schools and universities are closed. Even our churches have closed. All the spaces we go to distract ourselves have been shut off–most of our businesses and workplaces as well. While some may enjoy the time off, for me, it feels very much like being trapped. Reading too much about what is happening and where this could go, fear starts to grip my mind. The walls close around my heart and soul, and I find myself in tears each day. Who is running the show and making decisions? How will this all work out? How will I be able to provide when my ability to work is limited? You may be feeling the same things.

I think of my kids and everyone’s kids who are facing disappointments about activities canceled and not seeing their friends. I think of people who are alone and those in hospitals without loved ones being able to see them. I think of weddings canceled, funerals that cannot be attended, and graduations postponed. Lifetime celebrations all coming to a halt. I think of my niece who works as a nurse in New York and others like her who are risking their lives to save others. Business owners in fear of what happens next. I think of those who are struggling on every level–socially, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. Yes, there are blessings, and most of what we at home are experiencing is “inconvenient.” However, with every routine and ceremony upended, it is okay to recognize that sometimes this is difficult.

As I often do when confronting a situation, I consider the words being used and what they mean at their root. Sometimes by turning things around, a problem reveals a deeper question that is being asked. Where did this coronavirus come from, and how did it get its name? We mostly know “corona” as a brand of a beverage, but the meaning of the word “corona” is actually “crown.” The name comes from the way the virus is shaped, and yet, the irony is that a crown symbolizes “nobility.” A crown signifies someone of power and distinction. Corona also is used to describe that gaseous envelope around the sun that we can only see during a total solar eclipse…when the light of the sun is darkened.  

When I was researching the Civil Graces Project, the Civil Grace Generosity was one that was most interesting–the root of the word “generous” comes from the meaning “of noble birth.” Those who were noble were called “generous” because they were expected to be benevolent. But digging deeper, it is more than giving and being kind. It is a way of life that involves trust in the goodwill of humanity. Despite what we are told and taught in school, the course of human history is dominated by good people just trying to live a life of meaning. Generosity comes from a space of abundance and trust that not only will we have enough, but that we are enough.

So considering these meanings, and hopefully to bring us some light in the darkness that we feel, I have this suggestion. We are being symbolically called to wear a crown…hopefully, not of contracting the virus, obviously. But in this time of darkness and fear, the image of the crown can remind us of our noble nature. I have heard more than one person say that maybe this is our wake up call, and I have the same sense. We are away from the typical rush of our lives, and we are being invited to experience something more profound. It is a time of significant introspection, and it was flung upon us suddenly. We hardly feel like we are in power, and with our worries about our survival, we may struggle with the idea of being noble.  

However, if we can honor both sides of this challenge–the crisis we feel as well as the opportunity to find new ways of doing things, we may give our hearts something to ponder and a way to find courage in this situation. We are learning new ways to communicate with one another and how to make do with somewhat limited resources. Maybe there is an opportunity to reinvent the ways we work and the amount of travel we do. These things would all be beneficial to our environment. We also realize, once again, how much human contact means and the importance of genuine relationships.  

We are all of noble birth, and while other symbols of the crown are painful, as in a crown of thorns, we can use this time to reflect on our lives and how we want to come forth once this crisis has passed. As a world, I think we have awakened to new understandings. We definitely have much to learn about how to cope with pandemic and crises that are yet to come. We have learned that no military, no amount of wealth, and no amount of status protects us from this invisible force. We have learned once again that our lives are fragile and impermanent.

We need each other. We need ideas and new ways of living. When we can’t go out, we have to go in and be willing to do the inner work of our lives. We have to meet the spirit within to find our strength. Can you imagine a world where we each embrace this sense of noble nature as it relates to the spirit of generosity? Perhaps bringing forth our goodwill and trusting in that of each other, we will find a way to bring peace to our hearts and create inspired action of how we will make it through to be better than we were.

I offer this reflection to give you some ideas of holding this situation and not losing hope. Let’s keep the conversations going with one another as we work through this. This is a time for us to come together even when we are distanced physically. Please share your comments below on how you are managing. Much love to all of you!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Moro

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