[1]Stop, look and listen.

See how wonderful it is.

But don’t think just yet.

For thoughts can be beautiful pathways,

But they can also make you forget.

Be still, look, and listen.

Even a mind must rest to create its best.

So, do not worry, dear heart, head, and hands,

You will have your season to work and to play.

As there is time enough for all, every single day,

There is also time to make no plans.

Stop, look and listen.  How familiar are we with these notions?  How capable are we to take life at a slower pace and appreciate the time we have at hand, rather than complaining that we do not have enough time?

Amidst the recent worldwide turmoil caused by the COVID-19 and the drastic measures implemented by governments and citizens, people are being forced to take a step back, slow down and rethink their life patterns. 

A drastic reduction in the use of transportation was a dominant feature, as numerous flights were cancelled, while many are avoiding the use of public transport.  Work places and schools were closed, having people staying for longer hours at their homes.  Moreover, in view of the possibility of limited availability of food products and other items, people are consuming more consciously avoiding unnecessary waste. 

The end result of this? According to NASA, air pollution levels in China have dropped by roughly a quarter over the last month, as coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities have ramped down so employees in high-risk areas can stay home. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant primarily from burning fossil fuels, were also down as much as 30%.

In these modern days, constant pressures are conditioning both adults and children to be more productive, instigate growth, work long hours, depicting these as the main rules of success.  However, despite all the negative aspects surrounding this Coronavirus, it is also showing that a slowdown in our daily lives can prove beneficial.  By shifting the focus from growth for the sake of growth to sustainable growth, will aid us move through the day with a purpose, focusing on the quality of our lives, rather than on the quantity. Having people spending more time at home with their families, will help them to appreciate more life and one another, while the pursue of more sensible consumption and purchasing patterns, can aid to lead to a more sustainable way of living.

So let us use this worldwide episode as a wakeup call to restore the rightful balance in our lives, be more appreciative, present and more emotionally synced with ourselves.  As even declared by Pope Francis: “Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with the capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life (Laudato Si: 225).  Let us take a step back, understand the depth and complexity of our current life situation and approach it in a more holistic way, essentially by connecting to the people around us and to the planet that supports us, in the attempt to counter-balance the overrunning chaos. 

So, stop, look and listen to see how beautiful it is.

[1] Be Still My Soul, by Jennifer Williamson