As I write this, we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic crisis.

The news outlets and talking heads are pumping the air waves all day, every day with stories regarding this scary situation.  A friend of ours related that she could not buy toilet paper or hand sanitizer at her local grocery store. If you look in certain places, and listen to certain people, the world is definitely coming to an end.

As I watch and listen to these alarmists, I ask myself, “What is the reality of this situation?” Consistently, the messages from health care experts has been this: Wash your hands for 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and if you feel sick, stay home. Other than that, there is not much more we can do. Keep living, keep serving, and keep working.  

We all face challenges, hurdles, and unexpected circumstances each and every day. The opportunity in this is how we respond to these crises.  Do we overreact and freak out? Do we respond with apathy – going limp and doing nothing? No matter what approach we take, we can find other people to rationalize and affirm our response. 

All of this has given me pause to consider the amazing palm trees that dot our beautiful landscape here in Southwest Florida. They consistently bend with the often-harsh Florida weather, enduring strong storms, flood water, high winds, and even an occasional hurricane. And yet – there they stand; bending when necessary – and surviving.  

These palm trees teach us a lot about how to handle changes in our own often-harsh “weather” circumstances – and to consider the reality around us.  When the wind blows, the trees – leaves and trunk – respond together without breaking. 

As human beings, it is in our nature to pursue growth and to fulfill our visions for our lives. We need to take this lesson from the palms. When the unexpected storms of our lives arise, we cannot react so rigidly that we break.  We also don’t want to react so passively that we get blown around without direction.

We all need to be strong – with a clear sense of direction – yet relaxed and able to bend in response to the storms that arise during this great life journey. And while hysteria is foolish, caution is not. So let’s be careful out there – so that our life’s journey is a long and healthy one!

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