Spirituality, Gratitude, and Love: Potent Healers In Uncertain Times

By: Carol Gibney, LMSW
Reading Group Participant
Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Spiritual and Pastoral Ministries
Director of Spiritual Life, Leadership and Service
Ignatian Yoga Teacher

Deemed once again Ground Zero, New York has experienced tremendous hardship and pain as a result of the pandemic. The effects – mentally, physically and emotionally – have been devastating, as we hear reports from those on the front lines of unimaginable suffering and death. COVID-19 has indiscriminately destroyed and disrupted lives, and the shock and trauma has impacted all of us in so many ways. However, despite the disruption and emotional distress, our Fordham community has continued to move forward, quickly integrating into zoom classrooms, blackboard postings, and other modes of communicating and connecting, that prior to March, we never imagined we would be offering. 

In this time of social distancing caused by COVID-19, I have been re-reading the book, The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola, by Dean Brackley, SJ, which has had a tremendous impact on me and the work that I do as a campus minister at Fordham. This book has offered sage and wise offerings throughout the years, and suggests the importance and necessity of daily spiritual practices, while belonging to a community that not only supports us and challenges us to stay faithful, but also nourishes us in our alternative vision and practice.

Since lock down, I have been contributing to a text message chain every morning with a group of women. We call ourselves the Soul Sisters and our friendship has spanned over thirty years. The day begins with messages that include three things that we are grateful for each day, and this simple practice has helped me dive deeper into the attitude of gratitude that I try to integrate into my work as a campus minister.

With that being said, when I joined the ReIMAGINE Reading Group in January, I was grateful for the opportunity and viewed it as a way to collaborate with colleagues from across the university who were dedicated to their work as educators, committed to the mission of our university, and guided by Ignatian values. What I didn’t know at the time was that this initiative would be a gateway and a stepping stone for the entire university to immerse itself in reimagining higher education once the pandemic hit. 

Throughout the spring semester, the Reading Group discussed the history of education, as well as explored the privilege and inequity in higher education. I believe it is our job as a university to open the eyes and hearts of students to the reality of inequity and inequality, and in the world of a pandemic, I think it is even more important to study and reflect on these issues, causes and potential solutions, especially since New York is our campus.

As a result, I intend to continue reimagining my work as a campus minister in the 21st century, in addition to dreaming, brainstorming, and creating meaningful pathways for students, faculty and staff to connect with the Ignatian heritage and principles. I envision the post-quarantine world will crave deeper relationships with community, spirituality, and love, and in spite of the suffering and instability caused by the pandemic, it is an exciting time with many possibilities that were not even on the horizon or possible just a few months ago. New Yorkers are strong. We recognize and value diversity, creativity, and inclusion, and we come together in tough times with an unstoppable sense of hope and community. Us Rams are tough, just look at our Fordham educated Governor.

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay strong, stay in love, stay home and stay grounded. I look forward to connecting in the future. Namaste.