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Rainbows in Storms

COVID 19 is here and does not seem to be fading! Is it just possible that all of us can find our rainbows in this storm?

Life sometimes shifts in ways that knock our breath out. We are occasionally heartbroken by experiences that we could never have predicted. I think that when things go wrong as a result of our personal decisions, we may be disappointed but are not surprised because in some way, we saw it coming. But at times our lives are turned upside down by things that are not even our doing.

I think that the level of suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of those situations – they leave us feeling powerless. Indeed, we are incapable of deftly resolving the situation. No one would have thought that there would be so many countries affected in so short a time. Coming from Uganda and staying in West Africa, I would think I am familiar with the fear and anxiety that comes from the advent of a pandemic. For some silly reason, we thought that the COVID-19 situation would be contained… until it wasn’t.

So, here we are – we still can’t believe the number of deaths in Europe or the US, and we are just holding our breaths, praying that by some miracle, Africa is not as hard-hit - that the situation does not get as bad as experts have predicted for the African people. Less than 4 weeks in lockdown, we can already see the impact of the disease on lives and livelihoods. The cramped-up living conditions, the hand-to-mouth income and fragile economies in Africa are showing the strain. People are suffering. Yet this is just the beginning.

I was talking to a friend in healthcare and she was telling me that they could not even buy the much-needed PPE from the major medical stores. Everything is out of stock. Our chat meandered to various subjects, as is typical of female chats. I am never surprised when chats with my friends jump from boyfriends to recipes, a holiday to a funeral, or nails to a board meeting. But imagine my astonishment when my friend declared: “I am thankful for COVID.”

I almost fell off my seat as I went: “W-h-a-t?!” But she quickly explained. She didn’t mean it that way. She clarified that she had just realized how much we do not connect with each other because we are always busy. Many of us are caught up in busy lives that the close friends are no longer that close. Our lives are filled with meetings, business trips, official dinners and other such things that never really afford us the ‘luxury’ of spending time with our family or friends, let alone call them. In a world that is so technologically connected, we struggle to find the space for deep connections.

So, the COVID situation has ironically slowed us down in a way that has created the space for reconnecting with those we love. We can now have long chats with our families and long-lost friends. So, my friend was thankful that she was able spend so long on the phone catching up with me after ages. She has been able to reconnect with many other friends and spend quality time with her family. Play time for the whole family is now back on the table.

What is it that you can be thankful for? It is hard to be grateful amidst so much pain across the globe. It has been heartrending to watch families who have lost loved ones. Whole families wiped out – many have in Italy. Thousands have lost jobs. Many do not have a meal on their table.

Strangely, it is in misfortune that we can sometimes see the rainbows in the storm. Since that chat with my friend, I am now intentionally seeking opportunities for gratitude. I am thankful that I am alive. That I am healthy. I am thankful for my family. Thankful for their lives. I am thankful for my job. I am thankful for my salary. I am thankful that when I talk to friends and family now – our conversations have a deeper meaning. We are thankful for each moment. I am thankful for the possibility of a future.

We have no idea how things will pan out. We don’t even know when a cure and vaccine will be available. We don’t know how many more people we will lose. No one can tell exactly how bad the economic or job situation will be. We don’t fully know how our work situations will change. How travel will change. There are so many questions and conjectures.

But as we grapple with our survival in these difficult times, as we wonder how our future lives will be like; or even question our safety, let us find gratitude in each moment… each breath. Could we draw closer, instead of growing apart? Is it possible to forgive each other instead of getting bitter? What if we let go of past hurts? Is it just possible that we can renew our lives? That out of these ashes, life will rise. Where have we procrastinated? Is it time for us to make decisions that have been a long time coming? Is it time to make that move? During this impossible situation, what is possible for you?

Is it just possible that all of us can find our rainbows in this storm?

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