You all have seen a version of this phrase in modern advertising: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. Red background and white type with a crown. The original was part of a poster series to help the British people maintain their morale for what was to come during World War II. Today, eighty years on, they appear in all sorts of advertising: Keep Calm and Chive On. Keep Calm and Garden On. Keep Calm and Wine On. Variations are everywhere.

On Sunday, our local car repair shop—whose owner puts up funny phrases, poor puns (is there any other kind?), and other messages about what’s going on in our community—had put up a new sign for this week: “Keep Calm...and Wash Your Hands!”

During much of my professional career, I worked at a large government facility that researched, among other things, how climate change could affect the spread of disease in general and specific viruses, depending on the geographic location and changes in temperature and vegetation. Even though I’m retired from that work, I still read the weekly CDC’s publications as I do other related papers from the NIH, the WHO, and NOAA. I caught up on these science newsfeeds as I flew back to California from a trip to Virginia Beach. Certainly, my thoughts were centered on the previous week’s happenings on the coronavirus, and then on the way home, I drove by the car shop.

This was synchronistic. One of the A.R.E. Press books I have studied is Mark Thurston’s Synchronicity as Spiritual Guidance. The sub-title is “All of Life Is Working Together to Leave You Little Hints.” The shop sign connected to the intent of original British poster to what is going now. Our thoughts are being inundated by news, constant press conferences, the stock market’s gyrations, and directives—daily, hourly, constantly. Thoughts are things, as the Readings say. 

Since I’m a pretty calm person, I made it my spiritual discipline for the rest of the day to note less-than-calm demonstrations by my fellow human beings and to offer calm. I went to my grocery store, on the shopping trip I had planned before I deplaned. Not the usual Sunday afternoon, “I-don’t-want-to-cook-tonight” type of energy. More chaotic. A woman blocked the door to the frozen vegetables in the cold box. I asked if she needed help reaching something on the top shelf. That brought her out of whatever agitated state she was in, and she let me open the door. I repeated my offer of help. She said that she was just trying to think of what she needed and was drawing a blank. We chatted for a minute or two, and she thanked me for “helping” her.

The cashier was visibly rushed, and I could see that she wasn’t taking full breaths. I suggested that she take a moment, use the hand sanitizer, breathe, wipe off the register buttons—that we were in no hurry. She followed my suggestion and told me about the craziness of the day. At the end of our transaction, I reminded her to breathe and she smiled and said she would.

Thoughts are things, and calm thoughts beget calm. We can add to the calm around us by using this time as opportunities for inciting calm. For example, if you can’t get the brand of eggs you normally get, then substitute with another. Call your elderly neighbors before you go to the grocery store and see if you can get them something. And—this is most effective—if a driver cuts you off at the gas station, send calm to that driver.

We need to be calm, so we can stay healthy. Meditation is the anchor. If we are attuned through meditation, then the Creative Forces let us know, often through synchronicity, the options available to us, options that won’t bubble up if we’re agitated. We ourselves have to be calm to notice them. A phrase from the 1970s comes to mind: “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Meditate for your attunement and inner calm. Pray for others. For example, you can pray for all who are working to mitigate the crisis. You become the calm.

Hugh Lynn Cayce, in a lecture on the Christ Consciousness, said that healing is multifaceted. A medical treatment works, but a smile or word of encouragement can make all the difference in the world. Healing is not just related to the “confusions of our body cells, but also our emotions and thought forms.” Healing is a daily, constructive process: in thought, then in word, and then in action.

California issued a directive to self-isolate to slow down the spread of coronavirus. The directive has challenges for many: closed schools, no day care, medical staffing, and the economic effects on all businesses, large and small. Some of us will have to go to a Plan B, or even C, to handle everything. I encourage you to remember Plan A—Keep calm through meditation and prayer. Wash your hands (practical action for yourself and others). Be calm for yourself and your loved ones and total strangers. And look for hints from the Creative Forces in the humblest of signs, sometimes literally.