Last week I co-facilitated a Zoom huddle for physicians and public health workers in New York and California. These folks are in the middle of it. They are scared and they are fully committed.
They wanted to connect to another and they had questions for each other. One of the most pressing questions was how people were navigating their transition back into their homes and apartments after they left work at the hospital. They were desperately afraid of bringing COVID home and infecting their loved ones.
One had decided that he needed to find a hotel room where he could stay for the duration of the siege. Another described coming home to her apartment where before entering she removed all of her workplace clothing and put on a robe left by her husband, putting the hospital apparel and robe into the washing machine and stepping into a long shower and scrub. She wanted to know what others were doing to protect their families.
Here is something that surprised me. In the midst of this, they wanted to talk about what they were feeling grateful for.
“I’m grateful for everyone I’m working with. I can’t remember an experience when it felt like we were all on the same team – doctors, nurses, administrators – everyone pulling in the same direction. It’s very powerful.
I’m grateful for how much support and appreciation everyone is offering us.
I feel connected to why I went into medicine.
Everybody is so kind to each other.
I feel connected to my colleagues.
I feel connected to myself.
Each of them wanted to name aloud what they were feeling grateful for and they all wanted to hear one another. Their sharing had the feel of good ritual. At the end there was rich and full silence.
I was reminded once again that deep gratitude and great adversity are not mutually exclusive. Neither are fear and courage. Nor hesitation and commitment, or heartbreak and love. None of these cancels out the other. In some alchemy of the heart, they co-exist in the very midst of the complicated and sometimes brokenness of our lives and work.
Taking a moment to notice and name our gratitude may be one of those keys that restores us to the memory of our own and one another’s wholeness. Even in (maybe especially in) the midst of messiness and brokenness. Even, it seems, during this time of pandemic.
Looking up from the stretch and stress of this current pandemic moment, what are you feeling grateful for?