By Gwenn Voelckers
April showers bring May flowers and so much more.
In addition to warmer weather, new growth and budding possibilities, April is also a time for worship and family gatherings that embrace reflection, contemplation and celebration.
Easter, Passover and Ramadan all traditionally take place in the springtime when hope springs eternal.
The coinciding of these religious holidays reminds me of the healing power of faith.
Almost without exception, the women and men who have found their way after a divorce or the death of a spouse have been bolstered by a healthy spiritual life.
Many of the participants in my “Alone and Content” workshops take advantage of every spiritual connection they can find. They regularly attend worship services, find comfort in prayer and hymns, and faithfully observe religious holidays.
Others march to a different drummer and nourish their spiritual life in private moments: listening to music, communing with nature, reading, writing or sitting in contemplative silence.
In all its varied expression, my observations tell me that those who find sustenance in spirituality fare better when challenged by life’s transitions. They take time to spiritually connect with themselves and others and, in doing so, find the inner strength to navigate unchartered waters and to help others along the way.
Even when their own sense of self-worth is fragile or failing, I’ve seen devout divorcees and widows reach out to others with encouragement and emotional support. Spiritually grounded, their empathy runs deep and their desire to uplift others is steadfast.
In helping others, they help themselves.
Last month, I heard from a woman whose husband abruptly left her and their three teenage children after 28 years of marriage. She was in shock and consumed with pain. She shared with me how comforting it would be to hear from her minister and church friends, but they didn’t know her situation. It had been years since she had been to church and those relationships had fallen by the wayside.
Similarly, a neighbor of mine confided that he stopped going to temple after he lost his “bride” to breast cancer. Mad at the injustice of it all, he couldn’t bring himself to attend services without her. This led to years of isolation, during which he was overcome with loneliness and guilt. I wasn’t surprised when he talked of numbing his pain with alcohol.
My message to both was simple: Renew your spiritual connections.
It’s easy to imagine how difficult it might be to contact a minister, priest, rabbi or other spiritual adviser and ask for help if you’ve been absent from services for many years or when loneliness has you in its grip. But any religious organization worthy of its mission will respond with open arms, even in COVID-19 times.
A metaphorical warm embrace is waiting for those who reach out by phone, email or participation in live-stream or limited in-person worship services.
Likewise, if other paths beckon — if nature or poetry or meditation feed your soul — go forth and embrace those opportunities.
My spiritual battery gets recharged when I take time out from my busy schedule to be still and meditate. Quiet time in an inspirational setting allows me to contemplate my most deeply held beliefs, let go of fear, and set my intentions. I emerge more grounded, grateful, and ready to embrace the day with an open heart.
The power of a spiritual life is mighty. When you pursue your spiritual goals and teachings, life can be more manageable and your ability to cope with loss, loneliness and everyday struggles is strengthened.
However you pursue a spiritual connection, I encourage you to make that connection or re-connection now. Today. A belief in something greater than yourself and the company of people who share your faith can lead to a richer, more meaningful, and peaceful existence.
You do not have to go through life alone. And what a blessing that can be.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite Voelckers to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com.