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Just keep taking the next step…

A neuropsychologist's message of hope and perspective in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash
Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

Yesterday I heard church bells.

I was leaving the medical center, walking to my car after work.

It was a long day. My mind filled with a million competing thoughts – preoccupied with the hurry and the rush – trying to figure out ways to meet patient needs remotely to protect our patients as well as ourselves.

My mind was unfocused.

As I approached my car, I added “get a car wash” as a totally unimportant task to add to my mental “to do” list – as if that’s important at a time like this… But that’s how my mind works. I unlocked my car and reached for the door handle.

And I stopped.

I heard the chime of church bells.

And I felt goosebumps. My eyes glistened.

As I turned over my shoulder to the sound of the bells – Was there even a church nearby? How had I not known? I drive this route every day….

The bells continued to ring and I realized I had been holding my breath.

And I exhaled.

And I paused.

I stopped and looked around.

I saw a church – a ways in the distance, nestled between shorter brick buildings, with a teal blue steeple that I had somehow failed to notice.

That is, until today.

I thought of how much history those church bells had seen – not just these bells in particular (though surely they have seen plenty) – but church bells in general.

I heard them ringing at my wedding.

I heard them ringing at Grammie’s funeral.

I heard them ringing at my goddaughter’s baptism.

I thought of the millions of people who have similar memories as these. Over the course of centuries and millennia, all around the world. Through the good times and the bad times, they are a constant and – whether you are a believer or not – a symbol of things greater than us and the testament of time.

They’ve seen history. They’ve sounded their beautiful melody during times of celebration, as well as times of profound sorrow and fear.

There’s reverence there.

And now they sound in a time of chaos and great uncertainty.

I got in my car and put my keys in the ignition.

And I paused.

The bell chimes stopped.

… But I smiled.

Because I realized they will chime again.

They are a constant and a sign of certainty. And there’s peace in that.

As I placed my hands on the steering wheel and looked back toward the church bells, I saw healthcare providers in scrubs walking toward the direction I had come from. They were heading to duty. 

This is a pivot point in history, and a great battle of our time. Life is different today than it was a month ago – than it was last year. We can all learn something from this experience.

We can all learn something from those on the front lines – the doctors, healthcare providers, the nurses, the hospital employees, the first responders, the food suppliers, the police force, the firefighters, the grocery and convenient store workers, the truck drivers driving all night to keep food on the shelves, the ones in the factories keeping up food and medical supplies, and all the others who are at the battle lines each day.

We are all in this together – with our sights set on the hope of the future, with a new perspective and an attitude of gratefulness.

Continuing to put one foot in front of the other, over and over again.

… Waiting for the church bells to ring again.

This post originally appeared on TheJoyfulosophy.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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