Well, spring has officially arrived but doesn’t it feel like the earth is truly wrapped in life does it? Death and near death are broadcast 24-7. And for the most part, for good reason. But have we lost some sense of reason too? I sit here almost hesitant and anxious to write this today, but I feel a calling and am hoping it will be therapeutic for me. And for you.
I started the day reading the calendar daily devotion at the top of this blog, which ironically is right next to the above little sign about faith, as I do every day when I brush my teeth but today’s message kinda hit me hard. The earth feels so covered in death as we all anxiously await an awakening of epic proportions while we suffer through a pandemic of epic proportions. How then, do we keep the faith and keep from going crazy as we hunker down and social distance?
My husband and I started the day like we have the past several “groundhog days” by having our coffee and eggs but it all seemed a little gloomy and monotonous today. Then we went online and live streamed our parish’s mass and by simply listening to Fathers Michael and Jared lead their virtual congregation we were both peacefully moved. No looking around at who’s in that pew, what we’re wearing, or what we have to do after mass, but rather just sitting with closed eyes and open hearts in our pajamas in our house. Be still God told us, and we were. It was probably one of the most moving masses I can remember. And I wasn’t even there.
God also told us “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them” and I remembered that we don’t go to church, we are the church. My husband and I were the church today, dogs and all. (St. Francis would be so happy!)
As God would have it, today’s gospel reading was John 9 in which Jesus heals a man who was born blind. In his sermon, Father Michael acknowledged the fact that we probably all shuttered as he read that Jesus spit on the ground to make a mud paste, which He then rubbed on the man’s eyes. Spit! Just hearing the word sends corona virus chills down our backs, right? But it was Jesus’ spit and is probably the spit this world needs more of right now.
Father Michael then talked about how perhaps we all need to “open” our eyes. Open them to what’s important and to our blessings, even among today’s despair. Later, I read something right along these lines that shook me.
It said that perhaps 2020 is the year God made for us to open our eyes. Much like during previous plagues, God maybe has taken away everything we worship. Perhaps He’s telling us, “You want to worship athletes, I will shut down stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down concert halls. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theatres. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy. You don’t want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it so you can’t go to church.” Yowzah, right?
Funny thing is, I’ve seen more people praying and more praying on social media then I ever have. I don’t know why this virus is happening and I certainly don’t have the answers on how to stop it, but I am hoping part of its healing will be to miraculously bring this country together. Maybe we don’t need a vaccine as much as we need a cure for all the hate and division out there. Hate is contagious and it’s spreading like wildfire out there. Can’t we just put all of it aside and spread love instead?
What we also need more of is hope. After watching mass this morning, I listened to Pastor Craig of Oklahoma City’s Life Church, recommended by a college friend. His message? We are all carriers. What? No! But that’s why we’re staying home; to not become carriers. Relax. His message is much more powerful than that.
Yes, he tells us, we are all carriers. Carriers of faith and hope. Love and charity. With all the gloom and doom out there, let’s do our best to be spreaders of faith, dealers of hope, and givers of love. Fear is so very contagious, but so is good news and the concept of enduring hope. I get it, we are all feeling anxious, worried, and discouraged. I’m right there with you. Our lives are surrounded by warnings and chaos. People are dying and daily staples are suddenly luxuries. Finding hope or any semblance of peace is challenging at best. So how, then, can we find hope in the chaos?
It very well might not be a return to normal as Pastor Craig so eerily cautioned. Why? Because the previous what we call “normal” maybe wasn’t so great. Yes, it was comfortable, but it was also self-absorbed, hurried, misguided, immoral, and spiritually lukewarm. Lucky for us, Jesus did not come for the righteous or the perfect; He came for the rejected and imperfect. The imperfect and misguided ones. Like you and me.
It’s no secret this country has been in a very imperfect and misguided state long before COVID-19 attacked us. The two sides of the proverbial aisle are so far apart they may never try to make their way to the middle much less meet there. Hate has overtaken disagreement and blame is the game all those haters love to play. Again, maybe this crisis will bring us all together. We did it after 9/11 so I’m hoping we can do it again. We must do it again now. People are losing their lives, their jobs, and their loved one and yet we’re attacking and arguing over what words we use to call this virus? News flash people: This is your wake-up call as this virus doesn’t care if you’re republican or democrat, black or white, male or female, rich or poor. We shouldn’t either.
Instead, let’s listen to an 80-year-old man a friend posted about who she ran into in the grocery store and asked if he needed anything, to which he responded: “Let me tell you what I need. I need to believe in this country my generation fought for. I need to believe in this nation we handed safely to our children and hope their children will respect what they’ve been given. I was a little boy during WWII. Those were scary days. We rationed and no home went without sacrifice or loss. We didn’t know if we were going to be speaking English, German or Japanese at the end of the war. There was no certainty, no guarantees like Americans enjoy today. But we persevered and we overcame. We didn’t attack our president, we came together. We were in it to win it.” We should all open our eyes and ears to this humble man. An American man. We may never truly understand the sacrifices he and others made, but we can learn from them and respect them.
So today as you begrudgingly walk the rooms of your homes for yet another day and post on social media, ask yourself if what you’re carrying is worth catching. Are you spreading hate, criticism, and fear, or are you spreading faith, hope, and love even where and when everyone is afraid? Don’t hoard; share and think of others. Stay inside, don’t complain. Again, I get it. It’s more than likely going to get worse before it gets better. This will be hard for me for sure. I’m the queen of worrying and overreacting but at least for today, I will try my hardest to have and to spread a hope no virus can kill. Will you join me?