On this March 19 first-day-spring, I too am secluded at home with my husband, “social distancing” ourselves from others by avoiding all sorts of venues where people gather. Inconvenient? Yes. Annoying? Often. Frustrating? Most of the time. Fearful? No doubt. Stressed? Absolutely!

The news of suffering across the globe on radio, television, internet and smartphones, filled with doom and gloom, only serves to deepen my sadness and distress.

In trying to overcome my sense of desolation at this time, I reviewed some of Ignatius of Loyola’s advice on the daily movements of desolation and consolation. And I found David L. Fleming’s contemporary take on one of Ignatius’ thoughts on desolation, “The important attitude to nourish at a time of desolation is patience.  Patience can mitigate the frustration, dryness, or emptiness of the desolation period and so allow us to live through it a little less painfully.  We should try to recall that everything has its time, and consolation has been ours in the past and will be God’s gift in the future.  Patience should mark even the efforts we undertake to work against the desolation which afflicts us.” I tell myself to be compassionate with myself.

Since March 15, I have begun to notice the everyday events that bring me consolation. I share a few here.  Acknowledging my own feelings brings me to realize that I am not alone; I am limited. I am in touch with humility.  This is a good start.  I am grateful for the prayers, supportive messages, internet resources that are popping up on the screens around me.  Walks in the neighborhood reassure me of the movement of the seasons.  In consolation, I can “savor the moment” with gratitude, resting in the presence of the Divine.

Spring begun March 19, with tiny new buds on the ends of bushes I walk by, opening me to signs of new life. Just two days ago, On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, I was brightened by a female Cardinal perched on a branch of the forsythia bush outside my window.  This full breasted matron perched there for over 30 minutes. Hoping she will choose this bush to build her nest, I sat in her presence, reminded of Celtic spirituality with its love of finding connections to the Creator in nature.  Where might you be looking for the gifts of Spring?

Connecting with postings on the website of my faith community, I learned that Archbishop Hebda reminds us that in the Bible, the words, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” are found 365 times.  How does this reminder touch your heart?  It brings me to lean on signs of trust, mercy, hope amid the desolation.

I am grateful for the connections to family and friends, colleagues and media reports of people stepping up and reaching out to others around them.  Perhaps this “community spread of virus” will be infused with a good dose of “community love and compassion.”

NAMI Minnesota (www.namimn.org), one of my communities of involvement, sent an email on March 15 that is serving me well in these challenging times, where feeling overwhelmed and anxious is understandable. “While we are supposed to socially isolate ourselves to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading, we don’t need to emotionally isolate ourselves. Check in with people you care about or neighbors who don’t have close family or friends by calling, emailing or connecting on social media. Keep a routine, eat healthy and take a walk. Download the apps that help with anxiety such as Calm or Headspace.”  Also, I found these three links especially useful:

I share this prayer from my faith community (www.mary.org) to you and yours:

God of all Creation, from the beginning of time you have shown your love for your people. 

When you sent your son, Jesus, to live among us you shared our human joys as He celebrated with the wedding guests and you experienced our human pains in His suffering and death.

Be near to us in these days of uncertainty and fear.

Give us hope and trust as we are made to face our human frailty.

Grant us peace, wisdom, and courage as we work together to overcome this crisis.

And strengthen our faith, that with you we can conquer all evil and distress.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


I invite you to respond here to this blog with your thoughts, insights and wisdom.

What “desolation” are you experiencing?

How / Where do you find the “consolation?”

call me at 651-641-0008 ext. 16

email > susanna@loyolaspiritualitycenter.org

Mental Health Support And COVID-19

NAMI Minnesota is very concerned about the mental health of the people we serve and the greater community. This is a very trying time. If you have questions about COVID-19, call the Department of Health at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 from 7 am – 7 pm Monday through Friday.

If you are:

  • Unsure about attending therapy sessions outside the home, especially people who are at higher risk, ask your health care provider about telemedicine or online mental health services.
  • Worried about access to prescribed medications, you can ask your health care provider about getting 90-day supplies vs. a 60 or 30-day supply. If this is not possible, we encourage you to refill your medications as soon as they are allowed.
  • Worried about your mental health:
  • Call the warm line at 651-288-0400 or text “Support” to 85511;
  • Call the crisis team at **CRISIS or click here for the county numbers https://mn.gov/dhs/people-we-serve/adults/health-care/mental-health/resources/crisis-contacts.jsp
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Use the Crisis Lifeline by texting MN to 741741
  • Call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990

It’s also important to know that visits to inpatient mental health units may be curtailed, so find alternative ways to stay connected. More clinics may move to virtual visits to limit exposure. Because people with mental illnesses have higher smoking rates, they are at a higher risk, so calling the mental health crisis team in order to avoid going to the ER is a good option.  As more people may experience anxiety and panic attacks, be sure to call your primary care clinic or the crisis team for help.

Lastly, take care of yourself. We know people are feeling overwhelmed and increasingly anxious. Remember that knowledge is power and don’t accept everything that you hear or read. Go to trusted sites such as the CDC or the Minnesota Department of Health.

While we are supposed to socially isolate ourselves to prevent the CONVO-19 from spreading, we don’t need to emotionally isolate ourselves. Check in with people you care about or neighbors who don’t have close family or friends by calling, emailing or connecting on social media. Keep a routine, eat healthy and take a walk. Download the aps that help with anxiety such as Calm or Headspace.

By doing what we can to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and by supporting each other, we will make it through this difficult time. NAMI Minnesota will continue to keep you updated as this situation evolves and share more information as things change. Please check our website for any updates about support groups, classes and the office and for more information on COVID-19 check the Minnesota Department of Health’s website. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html