It’s hard for me to live in this COVID-19 reality without thinking about my time in China two years ago, partly due to the reoccurring language of “the China virus” used by those in leadership, but mostly because there is so much that year continues to teach me.I return back to the smells of steamed buns, to the bustle of parents on their motorbikes rushing their children off to school, to the sounds of a tonal language flying off the tongues of strangers.
And after I’ve journeyed far into the memories of my senses, I’m reminded that amidst the beauty of the year, there was an equally deep challenge to release control.
That challenge wasn’t specific to my time in China, but it was certainly amplified as I struggled to find purpose and to cultivate relationships across language barriers and thousands of years of tradition.
I made my way to the track many mornings, longing for some hint of routine.
And with each step, each stride, there was release.
Perhaps one of the lessons of this global pandemic is to ask ourselves where we are holding on too tightly, where we need to begin to let go and welcome what is being offered to us right now.
As Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist, writes, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”
The expectations we hold for this present moment have been altered by the coronavirus, but there are still lessons to be learned – lessons of choosing peace over violence, acceptance over judgement, contentment over longing.
During my ten months in China, I began to memorize “The Welcoming Prayer” by Father Thomas Keating.
I couldn’t carry all that each day brought on my own, in a country where I felt both isolated and welcomed.
And I cannot carry it all now, in a country where injustice runs deep and the powers that be continue to abuse what they’ve been given.
So I continue to walk, breathing in the prayer of welcome, releasing my desire to control each moment.
With that, I send you into another week with this prayer.
I continue to wrestle with how to pray, why I pray and who I pray to. But for now, letting the words wash over me as I plant my feet in the places where I am is enough.
May it be enough for you as well.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within.