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Pandemic reminds us to listen to our soul to find meaning in our lives

By Simone Talma Flowers
Special to the American-Statesman
Simone Talma Flowers is the executive director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas.

What is your soul calling you to do? Are you at a crossroads wondering about the meaning of life — especially now and here?

We are in the third year of a global pandemic, and we are seeing lives around us stopped, shortened, disrupted or simplified. We are also witnessing prosperous and busy lives; some stressed, others stretched thin. There are those who remain unruffled, living their best lives in the midst of it all.

One thing I have learned is that life is full of contradictions — stopping and going — that prosperity and distress can happen simultaneously. Life is so much of a journey, whether we feel it or not. It’s not waiting; it’s moving forward — even now when the world seems at a standstill in this pandemic. 

I know I can get caught up in my own struggles, and unless I lift my head up and see what is happening around me, I might sometimes feel alone with them. Even though I know, I’m never alone. There is so much happening around us that our normal every-day challenges can be overwhelming, and seem out of our control. Yet we have to get our footing. Even in the midst of constant change, we must build foundations wherever we are.   

Perhaps the foundation I am thinking of is more like the roots of coconut trees common in my home country of Trinidad and other tropical climates. They are rooted firm, tall and strong, yet can sway. They can sustain huge gusts of strong winds swaying and moving yet still keep their footing.

I feel this pandemic is teaching us how to build up ourselves to sustain the gusts of wind. So how do we build that foundation that allows us to have firm footing, yet yield with the wind, so we flow with the troubles that hit us and not break? 

Having a faith we are rooted in is important. A spiritual connection with the creator gives you strength, but you must be sure to take the time to be grounded and to connect. This can be early morning prayer in conversation with God. It can be meditation, sitting in silence, creating a space where you can be in communion with God.

Being out in nature is a beautiful way of connection. We learn so much from being with the water, the trees, the animals, the sun, the moon.  It speaks to us in ways that words cannot. It nourishes and replenishes our soul. 

Having family is important. Friends and loved ones provide the connection of intimacy, of sharing and receiving love. They are like other tall trees beside us, helping to buttress against raging winds and sympathetically swaying with us.

Our closest connections remind us of our humanity and our capacity to love. Our relationships with our parents, siblings, family, are relationships that are special with memories of experiences that are only known to us. There’s a special bond between the people we call family — regardless of whether it is biological or not.  

Having a community of support is also life-giving and healing. As we connect and interact with people in our community, it brings color and beauty to our life’s journey.

Having a community gives us guidance and support. It’s a way of finding solace and meaningfulness in our connections to where we live and those around us. It’s a reminder to get out of ourselves to participate in the world, and to share the gifts that we are given with others. This is naturally reciprocated — we receive gifts that we are sometimes unaware that we need. 

Living in these pandemic times has made me realize how short and fragile life is. In these past few years, with the reality that our life can be taken away at a moment’s notice, we must remember to live our best life today, with the hope and joy of this day we are in, and to welcome tomorrow with gratitude.  

So, what is your soul calling you to do? Get quiet and listen so you can hear clearly and act on it today. After all, we only have this one life. 

Simone Talma Flowers is the executive director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas, an organization committed to bringing our diverse faiths and cultures together to cultivate peace and respect and to build understanding of each other.