In the uncharted waters of this pandemic in our lives, the media seems to hyper-focus on all the pain, sadness, doom and gloom, they can possibly suck out of this current situation. Lots of armchair quarterbacks and back seat drivers point fingers on what should have, could have, or now, must be done to avert an economic global meltdown and climbing death toll. I don’t know that any of us could have predicted something like this common enemy that would “ground us all” and keep us housebound.
But among the onslaught of negativity and fear, there are good things happening that are easily missed. I’d like to readjust our senses and propose a little different trajectory. We rarely hear on the news about the positive responses that are often tucked into life’s disasters, until months or years later, in a “look back, feel good, specialty segment” or, in the last two minutes of a newscast as the credits roll by. Dare I suggest that during a crisis, this is precisely what we need to hear, because it has the power to raise hope, encourage, and uplift humanity.
It is easy when pummeled with doom and gloom, twenty-four/seven, to become hopeless, anxious, and miss the beautiful gifts that are right in front of us. We’ve been forced to slow down, and strongly encouraged to “stay home.” Trendy stars and celebrities offer video cameos, touting this mantra in the hopes young people will listen.
You may ask, “where is the gift, in being laid off, or my business failing?” It is really hard to see the positive side of things in those moments. My husband and I went through that very challenge in our marriage. We were devastated. We had two small sons and one on the way. But as we looked back and talked about that event, we have been able to see the gift in it that was not so obvious at the time. I am sure, that God knew what had to happen for us to change direction. It meant having to trust Him more than we ever had before. It meant letting go of our fears about mortgage payments, and provisions for our family, long enough to really pray and see His hand at work in this unplanned event. In fact, God knew that nothing less than what happened would have changed the course we were on. That painful course correction was a gift we could not have anticipated. We are forever grateful for the turn of events, when what seemed like a curse, was actually a blessing. We have a right to feel the loss, and be angry or sad when all the ripples of this crisis become real and personal. I just ask you to step back after you have had a good cry, and reach out to the One who has answers and a new plan that might be very different than you had ever imagined.
Hopefully, we are connecting again on a more profound level with our spouse, children, and friends. Sure, it can be crazy, and require a little creativity and that is also a gift. We learn new skills, stretch our minds, and try harder to bond. I had never heard of the Marco Polo app which is a free download, until one of the kids suggested we get it. Three of our kids live out of state, as well as four of the grand kids. We have had such fun sending little videos and messages back and forth. It minimizes the distance between us all. This app, (and I ‘m sure there are others) has been a gift in making that happen.
Now that we are all home again, we must relearn to be patient with one another, to overlook little annoyances, laugh, and find strength in who we are as the people God placed under the same roof. Back when we were all going in different directions, there was rarely enough time to get lost in the uniqueness of the other. I believe Matthew Kelly calls this, “carefree timelessness.” What a gift to not have to say, “I can’t talk long.” Some moms and dads are working remotely now, so each is getting to step into the classroom of the others work/home life, gaining a deeper appreciation for what the other brings to the family. In the day to day, our life has changed both inside and outside of the home, and not necessarily in a bad way. What a great gift to strive to work in union with one another as spouses for the good of the family. This is an enormous blessing if you take advantage of it.
Neighbors are now around more, and able to interact from a safe distance. On our daily walks we’ve noticed that people are happier, smiling, and more friendly. I’ve heard stories of how one neighborhood support group, Next Door, has been vital in getting needed supplies to other neighbors on the block. One large family was out of eggs and made it known, and four dozen were delivered to their doorstep by caring neighbors. This has strengthened that whole community. How many of us know our neighbors? How can we assist each other in mutual caring and sharing in this crisis? We have the power to do this. We cannot wait for someone else to fix things around us. Its up to us individually, to do what we humans do best-give the gift of ourselves.
Be that gift. Reach out to others. It can mean a simple phone call or card, food or more practical necessities for someone who needs to know they are not alone in all this. When we as humanity respond to these kinds of crisis with human kindness, ingenuity, and love for our neighbor, (rather than only focusing on our own needs)-something beautiful happens, love is magnified and spreads. It brings joy, despite the messiness around us. We are bigger than the situation we find ourselves in right now. It is in difficult times that we build character, learn what we are made of, and capable of. “Necessity is the motherhood of invention.” (Plato)
Globally, we are using less resources, spending less money, and learning to deal with what we have on hand.
It’s a gift to know how to do things “old school.” Pinterest and Youtube, to name a few, are chock-full of recipes, how to’s, demos, and ideas for getting to those projects we never really had time for previously. Learn to do simple important tasks like sewing on a button, balancing the checkbook, repairing a tear, checking the oil or tire pressure in your car. Teach your kids.
Most importantly, as Catholics, whether we were regulars or occasional worshipers, Christ is always inviting us into deeper relationship in and through the complicated times of our life. When we cannot attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, how are we using this time to grow closer in love of Him who gave everything for us? It can be as simple as just reading the Bible and pondering the Word more deeply. There are more podcasts, and websites that can help with this, than I can possibly name. Formed.org is an amazing subscription resource offered by many parishes. Don’t waste this precious gift of time, or become bitter over any course corrections. Recognize and look for the gifts in your everyday.
I’d love to hear about the gifts you have discovered in this time.
And, when that moment comes for us to be “un-grounded,” I pray we will hold onto that which is good and beautiful in our families, at all costs.