Life in these strange times: spiritual self care (#1)

Today, I start a series on spiritual self care during this pandemic. The first of the series, today’s interview is with Giselle Jackman, who is now a seminarian, studying to be an Episcopal priest. Giselle was formerly an intern at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church on Grand Island, New York, which is where I met her.

I am hoping to do future interviews with people representing a wide variety of religious traditions!

All places
where people go to worship are now closed down. How do people who normally
attend worship service get the spiritual food that they need to last them the

There are a number of ways that people who have a usual
practice of gathering together for worship to still find spiritual sustenance
during this time of isolation. Many have turned to online worship options
through Facebook and YouTube platforms. Still others have turned to books and
book groups.
People are feeling lonely and deprived on connection with
others. We have to practice social distancing. What are some of the things that
people can do to feel as if they are part of a community?

It is a human need to feel like we belong. Society is a
social network that allows us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.
The social distance requires a change in physical proximity, but, thankfully, we
have technology that allows us to stay remotely connected. A lot of folks are
online and feel connected by pictures and messages through texts on phones.
Others jump online and, through social media platforms, exchange pictures, ideas, and share stories from resources like the science community and world health
organizations. Still others are remaining faithful to the methods of connection
from early days, developing phone trees or becoming avid letter writers.
Whatever form of communication you value, staying connected is a possibility,
even when we cannot be physically present in the same space at the same time.
Are there any spiritual practices that you would
encourage for people during this time of lockdown and quarantine?

I believe it is essential to have a spiritual practice in a
time of chaos or upset. Activities that take us out of the current set of
circumstances and allow us a brief reprieve of the stress associated with the
uncertainty of the present are healthy.

Personally, a walk or brief meditation, where I listen to music or focus on my breathing, is a preferred spiritual
practice. The point is that people can decide for themselves what works best
for them. If you do not identify as a spiritual person, you may find yourself
engaged in activities that others have declared as spiritual. For instance, I
find it to be very helpful to clean and organize my space. These actions are
not necessarily spiritual, but I would share with you that for me, I think of
my early childhood days when someone told me that cleanliness is next to
Godliness, and so for me, being clean and organized is a spiritual practice.
Still, as a counselor, I know that often when things are happening outside of
our control, it can feel very good to be in control of something.

Thus, washing
your hands, cleaning your yard or your living space will all have the same
calming effect. You are in control and you are doing something which helps
manage the discomfort of feeling out of control.

Also, prayer is a practice that everyone can engage in with
limited time, money, or educational capacity. Everyone can be still, breathe,
and listen for the voice inside of them. This is the place where prayer and
inner dialogue occur. Prayer and positive, encouraging, calm self-talk can be a
tremendous skill developed during this time of isolation and social distancing.
Are there any websites that you would recommend that
would help people with a spiritual practice?

I do not use any specific website for spiritual practices.
However, I have found resources at the Episcopal Church to be helpful
( If anyone is looking for
services they can use the search bars on the social media platform of their
choice. A great occurrence is that local voices are coming on social media
platforms live and sharing encouragement with one another! We are all in this
together and it feels wonderful to know that no one is alone in this time of
What sort of spiritual practices would you recommend for
children and youth? Are there any websites that you would recommend?

I especially recommend for children and youth to engage in
yoga and meditation practices. These mediums offer a break in stress by
incorporating breathing and physical exercise. Movement and focus are necessary
for managing high levels of stress and children and youth may be experiencing a
greater sense of anxiety and fear over the current set of circumstances. These
disciplines can serve as healthy habits that will equip them for stress
management throughout their lifetime. In addition, I offer that everyone can
and should move their body daily. Take a walk or dance! You will feel better!
Also, hydration is another key to managing stress. Drinking water regularly
helps to flush out any toxin in our bodies. Drinking water and moving improve
our capacity to focus and offer the additional benefit of making us feel full
and satisfied. One will be less likely to overreact or overeat in response to

Is there anything that you would like to add? Maybe about
music or art or anything else that would `feed a person’s spirituality?

All of humanity is being called to live differently. We have
been given a moment of time to slow down and consider what is of value to us?
The fast pace of life has often been the reason for not doing the things that
bring us peace, happiness, or joy. Let us consider whether this is a time to
panic or a time to refocus and begin anew?

Giselle with Father Earle
King, formerly rector
of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Episcopal Church.

I am excited that there are more
hours in the day and more days in the week when I can be present with my family
or reach out to my friends, because I am not moving so swiftly, trying to build
a career or live in the moments outside of my job. What blessings has this
pandemic offered to you and your family? Once you name them, give thanks for
them, and consider which new healthy habit you want to build into your daily

Here is a link for anyone interested in evening prayer daily at 7 p.m. It is a zoom meeting! 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 547 089 182

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Meeting ID: 547 089 182

Giselle Jackman

Giselle forwarded a photo


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