This last week has seen me isolating at home for 7 days as I experienced the possible effects of COVID-19 (I am awaiting test results). An unpleasant experience but one which has given me the gift of time to reflect on and practice soul care and its changing nature during the pandemic.
Repeatedly, in my life, I have struggled to maintain regular practices of soul care. Like any habit, unless maintained, soul care can easily slip away. When this happens, I find myself out of sorts, anxious and not coping with daily life. I have often pondered why it is so challenging for me to maintain and learn new ways of soul care? I have questioned my will power and been a harsh critic of self. When I allow self-compassion, I accept that I am human, and that each day offers me new opportunities to begin again to instil the habits of soul care that bring inner peace and the ability to hear and listen to the wisdom of the deep inner voice of God.
COVID-19 has brought with it new challenges and lessons in maintaining my soul care during isolation, lockdown, social distancing and working from home. Pre-COVID, my primary soul care practice was time alone with self and God, away from home, enjoying walks, drives, camping, and time spent in nature. During the initial lockdowns, other than walking the suburban streets around where I lived, I was homebound and unable to pursue my nature-based soul care practices. This was a great frustration to me at first, as I chaffed against the new restrictions on my life and struggled to sooth my soul. In time though something shifted in me as each day I walked the same footpaths and parks in my neighbourhood. Where before I tended to rush past the beauty in my small garden, and in the suburban world around me, now I gradually noticed and was present to creation at my doorstep. In slowing down, being present and open to the gifts hidden in plain sight in suburbia I learnt to let go of frustration and experienced a deep inner peace.
Always a bird lover I became keenly aware of bird song in my street and surrounding parks. Kookaburras, cockatoos, and galahs regaled me both morning and night. The Eastern Koel, on its annual visit south from the tropics, called to me with its haunting mating song thrusting me back to past times spent living in the tropics, providing balm at a time when travels were no longer possible. Often at night I awoke to the call of Mopokes as they sang to each other across the distances and unknown to them evoked warm childhood memories of the young Mopoke family that nested one year in the garden of my childhood home.
During these final days of my 7 days alone in isolation, I have reflected on, and practised lessons of soul care learnt through previous COVID-19 lockdowns. Once again, my physical and social world has contracted, now to within the walls of my home and my garden. Here I have experienced the joy of watching birds feeding on nectar from the callistemon flowers in my garden, enjoyed the sight of summer sunsets and the delight of hearing bird song from early morning until evening. Isolation has seen my life take on a slower restorative pace, drawing me to a fresh awareness of nature in my immediate world seen through the windows of my home, gentling my soul, and enabling me to experience the presence of God in sickness and the limitations and gifts that it brings.
Life is uncertain and my soul care necessary in navigating these uncertainties. I am grateful for the ongoing changes and adaptations that COVID has brought to my soul care practices, repeatedly teaching me to be present to the beauty and presence of the divine in nature no matter how small the view or experience.