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In Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: Thoughts and Resources on Spiritual Health from Hendricks Chapel

March 13, 2020

Students, Chaplains, Staff, Advisors and Friends of Hendricks Chapel:

Grace and peace to you,

Syracuse University’s ongoing efforts in response to the global coronavirus crisis will continue to develop as new information and guidance is made available. This is an active and uncertain time for our campus community. Please continue to monitor Syracuse University’s official COVID-19 communications at: syracuse.edu/coronavirus

In addition to the physical factors associated with the coronavirus outbreak, it is also worthwhile to consider the mental and spiritual elements of living and learning through uncertainty, shock, sorrow and fear. Because we at Hendricks Chapel affirm that our wellbeing is not limited to physical attributes, it is also important to reflect upon our mental and spiritual health in these challenging times. The following are some thoughts to consider:

  • Learn. In addition to Syracuse University, please utilize insights from the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and state health department. While anxiety can deter awareness, please know that accurate and relevant information is indeed available, and increased knowledge can help to decrease our unease.
  • Pause. When unpredictable events unfold at an alarming rate it can be tempting to respond with panic. When we offer ourselves the gift of a few deep breaths, several times a day, panic can give way to peace and perspective.
  • Accept. The truth sets us free. We are best suited to face our fears when we acknowledge that we are indeed afraid. Please feel free to feel what you feel and be assured that others are likely feeling something similar.
  • Forgive. When our lives are altered by no direct choice of our own, we are often compelled to carry an assortment of thoughts and emotions that breed bitterness. Since “resentment corrodes its container”, we are wise to let go of our prior expectations and live into the future that is now before us.
  • Remember. We should never forget that we are never alone. We are in this together, and “social distancing” does not require spiritual distancing. Please do not hesitate to reach out to others and receive the relational nourishment that you need.
  • Connect. The best present we can give and receive is the power of presence. We can show up for one another, listen with compassion and love with courage. Even while avoiding close physical contact we can connect with loves ones, especially those most vulnerable.
  • Move. Our bodies were made to be in motion. While much is outside of our control, we do have the ability to practice healthy habits through exercise and diet. Physical health ultimately impacts our mental and spiritual health. 
  • Serve. When in the midst of difficult times we can focus our attention on others in need, especially the elderly and those experiencing financial struggle. We receive from others when we give to others, and each person can make a positive difference.
  • Hope. We are gifted with medical specialists, public servants and dedicated colleagues who are working tirelessly to move us past this moment. While the path ahead is by no means predictable, and more difficulties surely await, together we can believe that goodness will ultimately prevail.

We at Hendricks Chapel remain fully available to accompany our campus community. If you are in need of care, please contact us at chapel@syr.edu or 315.443.2901. If there is a particular chaplain that you wish to communicate with, please visit our Chaplains directory webpage. For additional information on chapel building hours, Food Pantry availability, People’s Place Café, etc., please visit our COVID-19 Response webpage.

These are the times that test our spirit. May we all receive and offer comfort in the midst of challenge, knowledge to overcome doubt, and trust to overwhelm all despair. I am honored to serve alongside you. We are in this together.

With gratitude,

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The Rev. Brian E. Konkol, Ph.D.
Dean of Hendricks Chapel
Professor of Practice, Department of Religion