“COVID-19 has taught us that change is required for growth,” writes Teachers College’s Aurélie Athan in “A Lost and Found Thanksgiving,” an essay written for Columbia News. Athan, Research Professor in Clinical Psychology and at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, adds that “we all have the chance this year to turn trauma into new learning — and with that opportunity, remake our world.”

TURNING TRAUMA INTO LEARNING Athan urges her readers to “remember what is life-giving and sustaining in the moment.” (Photo: Bruce Gilbert)

For example, anticipating Thanksgiving dinner with just her nuclear family, Athan, whose teaching centers on adult transformative learning through ritual and symbol, plans to set her holiday table with family heirlooms commemorating loved ones who will be missing from the celebration this year. Instead of an extravagant feast, she will serve a scaled-down meal, assembled by preschoolers’ hands, to introduce the possibility of new traditions and to “remember what is life-giving and sustaining in the moment.”

“Rituals are made with what is at hand,” Athan concludes. “Just look around, and gather what you have.”