I don’t know about you, but I am not sure I ever used the word ‘mitigate’ in a sentence before March of this year. I used other words with similar meanings, but ‘mitigate’ seems to be in every sentence these days. Mitigating the effects of Covid19, mitigating the emotional effects of not being able to be in community, mitigating the financial impact of not having corporate worship, or work, or summer camp. I’ve used it so much that I figured I needed to look it up and see if I am using it correctly. Google (in my day we said Webster Dictionary…but that’s another article) says ‘The somewhat formal verb mitigate comes from the Latin roots mitis “soft” and agere “to do/act”. That’s pretty close to what I thought, but it strikes me that ‘to soften’ is a way to allow the circumstances of the day to affect me, as opposed to my effect on other people or situations. How might this season of unrest soften me and my way of relating to God and to others?
I wrote a few months ago about giving up being judgemental this year. It’s been a struggle, but I am doing so much better at it. I’m trying to listen and hear what others really think and feel. I believe I am being ‘softened’. God is ‘mitigating’ my effect on the world…in a very good way. I am currently in a situation totally different from my expectations, and I am trying to listen to God in determining my responses. I am ‘softening’ to results other than those I brought with me. And I am ‘softening’ to how much I might actually be able to impact any situation or any other person. I have for some years valued a tool for ‘softening’ called the Welcoming Prayer.
The Welcoming Prayer by Father Thomas Keating
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person, or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.
These words help me when I feel fearful, indignant, powerless, and lonely, as well as a host of other emotions. It allows me to focus only on what God gives me….and I admit it sometimes takes me several times a day to really connect with it. I am quick to want to hold on to my prejudices and my ego. I want to practice social distancing, but I also long to enjoy close conversations and being present and joyful with others. But most days I am able to honestly say “I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within.”
The effects of Covid19 will be with us for a long time, I hear. My hope is that the ‘mitigating’ God is doing in my heart lasts for eternity.