Sunday, March 22, 2020

holding each other up without holding hands

Sometimes, it's hard to find our own words - written or spoken - to talk about terrible things when we're going through them. 

So, if this pandemic leaves you speechless, because it is painful, because it is scary - for so many reasons:
- being physically apart from those we love, 
- being worried and scared for those we love who might fare poorly if infected, or for yourself, if you are at risk
- being worried and scared for those we love who are on the front lines of the fight, or for yourself, if you're one of those on the front lines
- seeing others suffer in illness or through loss of employment, or to suffer them ourselves, 
- being unable to physically do anything about this pandemic, 
- having to think twice about something so simple and routine as going to the grocery store  

... know that you are not alone.
This is a painful, frightening, difficult time, for so many reasons that touch us in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. 

I don't know how things look from your side of the screen, but from this Catholic-scientist's perspective, a few things are clear:

This will get worse before it gets better. Today, just like yesterday, the only way out is through. 

But, that does not mean we are devoid of HOPE.
Things will get better!
And can you imagine how incredible it will be when we are all finally able to be together again? 

In the context of so much physical death, disease, and suffering, some might think it trite, to consider the things we can't do as a community, as church, right now, as a kind of death. In no way do I intend to trivialize the physical suffering and death caused by this pandemic - but it is also true that suffering and death have many forms, including the psychological and spiritual. Even those who manage to avoid COVID-19 infection will not escape this time completely unscathed. (Those of you who have been newly homeschooling for a week now already know that!) 

And for that reason, I think it's important for those of us who believe in God, to remember what comes next at this time of year - fast-forward a little bit to Good Friday.
What follows Good Friday? Easter.
Resurrection always follows death - and it doesn't matter if that death is physical, emotional, or spiritual. Think about today's Gospel - the story of the man born blind - the healing of his blindness was a certain kind of resurrection, was it not? 

Resurrection. Always. Follows. Death. 

As we move into this second week of social distancing, homeschooling, working from home, or not having the option to work from home, and perhaps struggling to find childcare - whatever this situation looks like for you - let's hold one another in our hearts - hold each other up during this time when we cannot hold each other's hands! Let us all do whatever we can to help, even in the smallest of ways.

I wrote a prayer a few nights ago that I shared with my women's group via videoconference yesterday morning, and I'd like to share it with all of you here: 

Lord, on Ash Wednesday, you asked us to rend our hearts, not our garments, and return to you. 
Now, you are hidden from us; your Eucharistic presence is out of our reach.
We are starving for you, and we are starving to be with our family and friends again, in safety and health.
Help us, Lord, to help one another in this time, with the compassion you showed the man born blind and the many others you healed during your public ministry - help us to understand more deeply that when we help our sisters and brothers, we are helping you.
In our longing for the community and communion of the Mass, teach us to never again take for granted our communities of faith, or the gift of the Holy Eucharist.
Keep our hearts burning with love of you and one another.
Our hearts are rent - for those who suffer with this illness, for all caregivers, for one another. Please end this pandemic, and heal all sickness.  
Help us to trust in your mercy, and to walk in hope through this darkness, knowing that we will come through this better, and not alone, but together. 
Bless us with the grace we need now to hold each other up, when we cannot hold each other's hands.
We entrust ourselves to your mercy - and trust that, in your abiding love for all creation, all shall be well.

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