Practice Challenge – A Place to Begin – in the time of COVID-19


Steven Crandell

(If you wish to share a URL for the poem, it is posted on our blog.)


1) Welcome stillness wherever you can – sitting on the grass, looking out a window, walking your dog.

2) Breathe the next breath as if it was your last.

3) Exhale with the blessed awareness that it wasn’t.

4) Read ( or recite – bonus points for memorization -) this line from the poem by Christine Valters Painter poem: “Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood.”

5) Sing it aloud if you like. (N.B. This feels good. Just make up a tune. Let it come to you. Lay your hand on your windpipe and feel your vocal cords vibrate as you sing.)

6) Discern on one of your ancestors who has died. One whom you still have a strong connection to. Open your mind and heart to hold a space of acceptance – not approving, not disapproving. Just acknowledging and accepting.  Sit in this space with the ancestor.

7) Read or recite the line from the poem again.

8) Say this if it feels appropriate: “I am here because of you. I am me because of you. Accompany me now that I may be resilient and loving to those I know and those I do not know. And may peace flow through you and me, around you and me and encircle us all.”

9) Listen as you welcome stillness once more.

Very grateful to Christine Valters Paintner for sharing this poem with our community.

— Steven Crandell, SDI Director of Content and Communities

Praise Song for the Pandemic

Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,

Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,

Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,

Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,

Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance,

Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, all the medicine makers, praise be the journalists keeping us informed,

Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afar, and blessings on parents holding it together for them,

Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, praise for those who stay at home to protect them,

Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lock down with abusers, the homeless and refugees,

Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color,

Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort,

Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown gnawing,

Blessed are those in grief, especially who mourn alone, blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night,

Praise for police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind,

Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distance, give thanks for laughter and kindness,

Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love,

Praise for the seas and rivers, forests and stones who teach us to endure,

Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood,

Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism,

Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness,

Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day, praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth, blessed is the sky clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again,

And when this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.

Steven Crandell

Steven Crandell

Steven Crandell is the director of content and communities for SDI. He guides SDI’s storytelling and local community-building — on our website, our blog, social media, in our webinars and through our SDI Communities program. He sees spiritual companions as the catalyst in an ongoing “contemplative revolution.” His unofficial job title is “Director of Encouragement.”



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