It’s always good to be prepared.

Last week we offered a training session on Advance Care Planning for all our Spiritual Care Volunteers at our hospital.  This is often the paperwork we avoid talking about or doing.  Because it involves the hard conversations about our wishes around end of life, or when we are no longer able to make decisions for ourselves.

Living well also includes preparing well.  I’m not always good at this.  Right now as our world seems on the verge of a pandemic, there is a lot of fear, a lot of misinformation, and not often the kind of preparation we really need.

I am no expert on the Covid-19 virus, or the Coronavirus.  I’m asking questions of those who have medical knowledge.  Like many of you I am thoughtfully watching the news and reading what I can to educate myself.  Working in a hospital, I am very aware of the danger of viruses and how we need to be vigilant to keep our hands clean, and to protect those who are the most vulnerable.

Last night I read a very disturbing article which came out of Italy which implored us to be ready for the worst.  And I’ve heard the opposite as well.  So whom do we believe?  How do we find balance?  How do we stay calm?

I was reminded again of a sage piece of advice that I have often recalled to mind – to live each day as if you are going to reach 100, and to live each day as if it were your last.  Probably good advice for these uncertain days!

So how DO we prepare for a wide-spread epidemic – of any kind?  Common sense should prevail, and I’m thinking that doesn’t include hoarding toilet paper.  Instead of hunkering down and isolating (great for introverts!), we do need to care for those who might not be able to prepare.  Compassion and care should be a part of all our planning.

Changing our habits – from handshakes and hugs to a pat on the back, perhaps?  Awareness of washing often and thoroughly, and not touching our face is something we all can put into practice.  I make my own hand-sanitizer and take it wherever I go.  (Recipe at the bottom).  At the hospital I use the sanitizers provided, I pay attention to signage that may alert me to someone who is vulnerable.

Our immune systems are one of our most precious gifts.  Boosting our immune system by what we eat, (what we don’t eat), supplements to take, exercise, there is enough written about that.  Instead of toilet paper, perhaps we should be buying garlic and vitamin C!

I posted an art piece called “Calm” this week; it just seemed appropriate.  Stress is not a friend of our immune systems.  Stress can feed into frenzy, there are examples of that everywhere.  Can we be the voice of calm?



I will freely admit that I can easily fall into anxiety.  I admire others who don’t seem so affected.  We are all created differently, and we also have our own triggers.  I grew up with a family preparing a bomb shelter in the cold war of the 80’s.  We prepared with diligence for 92K.  We were prepared for the worst, which we all know didn’t happen.

Yes,  it is good to be prepared for disasters of any kind, as long as it doesn’t feed our fear.  Communities have plans in place and we are all encouraged to have emergency kits, with food, water and other essentials for any calamity.  Being a Mennonite by history and nature, I tend to have a full pantry and freezer.

I want to be mindful that this current crisis doesn’t take over my thoughts and life.  I am mindful of many who are facing other challenges, such as cancer and other serious illnesses.  I am mindful of those who struggle with mental illness and depression.  I am mindful of those who live on the streets and have limited resources.  I am mindful of those who are elderly and isolated.

And living carries on!  There are weddings and reunions, and celebrations.  Some of these activities may be curtailed in the face of a crisis.  How can we be creative and supportive to live well, even in the midst of precautions?

What really calms my heart though is the words of Jesus.  “Be not Afraid.”  If you google words of peace, or comfort, or “do not fear”, the scriptures are full of verses that can calm an anxious heart.  As much as we need daily nourishment, I know that when I focus on my faith, on God who truly loves me, on words of life that feed me, my heart is calmed.  I am at peace.  This is a daily practice.

Whatever the day, this month or year brings . . . may we do it in community, supporting one another with encouraging words and practical help if needed.  May we do it with common sense, taking time to filter information and examine their sources, and preparing the best we can, without panic.   May we do it with calm, knowing that God is with is, and we don’t need to be afraid.

Here is a recipe for home-made Sanitizer.  It includes Thieves Oil, which I think is a remarkable blend of essential oils that has an interesting history and is known for fighting germs.  You might want to google it.  I use Thieves Essential oil in my own liquid hand-soap (also easy to make), and sanitizer. as well as other uses.

Hand Sanitizer   Update:  disclaimer since I am not an expert.  The following recipe has worked well for me in the past, but with the Coronavirus, they are recommending hand sanitizer with rubbing alcohol.  For this challenging time, I’ve made sanitizer with 99 % rubbing alcohol and a few drops of thieves oil  

My old recipe:  Fill a small spray bottle (2 oz) with 1 tsp.witch hazel, add 10 drops of thieves essential oil, and a squirt of aloe.  Fill with distilled water.

Foaming Hand Soap

I’ve been using this for a while now, and love it.  Sometimes you have to shake the bottle a little to remix the ingredients.

3 tbsp. Liquid castile soap (unscented)

1 tsp. Aloe vera

10 drops Thieves essential oil

3 drops lemon essential oil.

Combine all the ingredients in the bottom of an empty foaming soap dispenser.  Slowly add enough water to fill the bottle, then replace the lid and shake gently to combine.


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