“Since love is lord of heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?”
My 11 month old likes to spend her days giving everyone in the family hugs and kisses. A week ago she saw an icon of Jesus on the wall beside her bed, and gave Jesus a big wet baby kiss as well. I share this because (given the relentlessness of the news cycle and all the suffering in the world) it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty and goodness in our actual lives.
Because of this website, I’m often far too plugged in to news and social media. When you wake up every morning and read bad news first thing, it takes a toll. Between the torture report, the killing of Christians in the Middle East, the undercover Planned Parenthood videos, the videos of police violence against unarmed black men, it adds up. You feel the crimes against the most defenseless in your bones. I’ve been stressed. I’ve had trouble sleeping. I’ve wept.
So, I need to take a step back. Maybe you do too. It’s good to be informed and do your part, but it’s also good to call to mind all the blessings in your actual life, and to spend less time worrying about what you can’t do much to change, and more time loving the person right in front of you.
So a few suggestions for surviving the news cycle and the noise inside your head.
1) Listen to music you love, or this version of “How Can I Keep From Singing” by Enya. There’s something about singing . . .
2) Clean your apartment. Work in your yard. Spend time with your children. Do something in the world outside your head.
3) Consciously unplug for long stretches at a time. Find a drawer and drop your phone in it.
4) Reconnect with a friend face to face or on the phone.
5) Say the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeat.
6) Read the readings of the day on the USCCB website or the Laudate App and pray for the needs of the world.
7) Do one concrete thing to make the world a better place: watch someone’s kid, donate to charity, make someone in need a meal, visit and old folks home. Write to your representative. Pick your own adventure.
8) Cherish the people you love who think differently from you and love you anyway.
9) Read a book or write in a journal, not to change the public discourse but just for the pleasure of encountering something beautiful or true.
10) Don’t give in to despair.