Pausing to Breathe in a Pandemic, in a Protest

By Ajai Blue-Saunders


My life, my reality is that since March,  I’ve been hunkering down at home during the current environment.  This includes witnessing a worldwide pandemic and its corresponding health concerns, to most recently the protests and the gut-wrenching cries to end racial injustice.

With the added blessing of working from home while running a nonprofit for the past four years, this isolation is normal.  Only this time things feel different. Seems most people throughout the world have had to alter life as it was known pre-pandemic, and now life has changed.

Mothers and fathers are learning new methods to parent in a pandemic from an unknown, non-existent parent manual, while intertwined work schedules make juggling life difficult.

People are also discovering creative new ways to cook with exciting, exotic recipes hoping to enhance their immune systems to guard against incorporating bad diets into their daily routines.

Personally, what I’ve discovered during this time, the unexpected benefit, is that new opportunities await me during stillness.  Now I have more time to reflect and listen. Listen to my heart beat while observing the beauty of a morning walk or the magnificent sunset during an evening stroll in the neighborhood.

So I’ve had to ask myself, “What possible good can come from more alone time?”   I’ve already experienced the lonely ache of an empty house for 5 years.  Times spent crying on my green faded couch where my husband and I once held soft, swishy hands in the safety of our home.  Since he’s been gone, I’ve experience more times at home yearning for deep, intellectual conversations than I care to remember.

Why is this time alone so different?  What has the pandemic and protest experiences taught me?

It was only during my quiet times with God, I sought the answers and directions.

What I discovered in this stillness?

  • I’ve realized the beauty of quietness and how yielding to rest can strengthen my physical body and settle my soul.
  • I’ve learned the ability to purposely “slow down” to stop the busyness, to actively remove distractions from the media or concerned friends are ways to refresh my soul and bring me closer to purpose.

As a widow, we often find ourselves lost in who we once were.  I was once a wife, but not now.  I was once a part of the couple’s ministry at my church, but not now.  I once slept snuggled up close to someone who could protect me, but not now.

So what’s next for me and my life?  What do I want to do next?  What are the plans for my life after coming out of this pandemic and after the protests? Most importantly, what might I gain in an unhurried life?

Pausing on Purpose

Psalm 45:10- “Be still and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.”

In this mandated stillness- just like a pause, are there still things about me that I need to discover?  If I keep the busyness of life; if I keep moving, talking, and hosting zoom meetings, will I miss out on what God has for me?

So, during this pandemic and time of unrest, I’m centering my mind to learn, to pause and reflect.  Looking at things that aren’t “feeding my spirit” anymore.  Looking at ways I used to be- and things I used to do, only to realize they might not be so important.  Learning to “let go” of unfruitful things, thoughts and even people that may be hindering my ability to clearly hear my next steps.

Much can happen during stillness.  Exhale. Exhale again. Clear my mind and thoughts.

I’m taking moments to see the beauty my once busy life missed.  I’m learning to quiet my spirit, while reconnecting and listening to my Creator tell me what I’m called to do and be.  Recharged and regrouped to be made stronger. There’s excitement rediscovering ideas, sounds and whispers I once left behind in my busyness.

No, I’m not there yet, but I’m seeing my heart become lighter, the pain lessen and the possible return of joy  into my life.  Experiencing opportunities to see the world through new lens of less sorrow.

All because I’m Pausing to breathe on Purpose.




Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.