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The Jitters

Yesterday morning I received a voice mail from my grand-kids school regarding the Coronavirus. It was the third call and the first time I got the jitters. Up until then, I’d felt like this ominous, imperceptible virus was “out there,” at a safe distance. Not an impending threat.

Then suddenly, unexpectedly it came near, and my body sounded an alarm. Jitters. That anxious, can’t-sit-still feeling in my body, rattling around, revving up, letting me know that something is wrong.

While I don’t hesitate to confess my dislike of this sensation, I did become aware that my body was befriending me, trying to tell me something. And if I would listen to it, I would likely receive important invitations befitting this very moment in time.

Here are a few things I heard:

“Come Home” Because jitters are difficult to ignore, they draw my attention to what’s happening in my body and call me home to my body. I can live so much of life disembodied, in my head, preoccupied with the future, rather than present to the here and now. Jitters invited me to come home to my body and be present to what was going on in my body, and the world.

“Pray” Like church bells sounding from a steeple, this shaky, rumbly feeling inside invited me to prayer. Clearly, I was feeling upset, scared, and uncertain. These emotions, playing out in the theater of my body, were a call to prayer; an opportunity to turn toward God and express my fears and experience being held by God.

“Empathize” What we have going on right now is humbling, isn’t it? Pandemics don’t respect social status, racial privilege, or the insulation of wealth. (Did you hear that Tom Hanks and his wife tested positive for the Coronavirus?) Every one of us is vulnerable—though admittedly some more than others. In this discomfiting, the jitters have softened my heart and deepened my empathy for our shared humanity.

Coming home to my body, turning to God in prayer, and empathizing with our world sure seems like substantial fruit from listening to a voice mail that made me feel the jitters. While this is a scary, unsettling time, a defining moment in history, if we open to its possibilities, might we will be better for it?

Tree of Life by Dale Witherow

Tree of LIfe, by Dale Witherow

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