Letter for April 2020 ARK
Dear Family of God, People of the Many Colors,
What a time we are living through! We awake each morning to hear the latest statistics of COVID 19 and brace ourselves for where the next confirmed case will be. Our prayer life struggles to keep our fears in check but we do pray, often and with great earnestness. Never since I was eight years old have I gone this long without being fed at the Eucharistic table. Never would have I guessed when I first learned of a new virus in a country half way around the world that we would be so affected by it these months later. All of us have had to let go of events, schedules, traditions that we’ve been looking forward to, from March Madness to the Olympics, to commencement exercises to hugs and handshakes to daily communion to Holy Week liturgies… and the list goes on.
In the midst of all this letting go, being adaptable and letting go of my preferred way of living, I was asked to give a live Face Book reflection on finding gratitude in the midst of adversity. Whew!! But actually, it didn’t take me too long to make the connection, for I discovered that the most heartfelt gratitude grows out of adversity, out of experiencing ‘up close’ just how vulnerable, limited and lacking in control we really are. Yes, it means facing our mortality, like it or not. Only conscious human beings realize this and that’s why only we can have this depth of gratitude.
I lose my wallet and a stranger finds it and returns it to me whole and entire. I have cataract surgery and am amazed by the brilliance of colors I can now see. I have a stroke and now I can talk and walk again. I lose my home in a fire, but all my family members are safe. Adversity gives me perspective and then deepest gratitude has a chance to bloom. We experience life differently after experiences like this; priorities are more likely to get adjusted; we become more mindful of what we have than what we don’t have.
I’ve never been one to praise and thank God when adversity hits, but I can be grateful that there is a faithful God to hang on to, or who hangs on to me/us and who promises that all the emptying we are experiencing now will carve the space for far more precious and lasting treasures – the intangible ones that, if we’re honest, are the ones we are really longing for.
Holy Week and Easter will be much different this year, but maybe even more profound as sorrow and loss mixes with the Hope upon which we build our lives – not wishful thinking, but the solid conviction that our God is with us.
Here are a few suggestions for these last weeks of Lent: 1) notice who and what surrounds you: people, crocuses and daffodils, colors and fragrances and ponder their simple beauty; 2) divide a sheet of paper into sections and assign one decade of your life to each section. In that section name the people who were significant to you in those years, special events, questions you had then, and learnings you acquired. 3) List the new appreciations you have acquired just since the outbreak of the corona virus. My guess is that with any one of these you will touch into your human capacity to experience heartfelt gratitude. Do have a blessed, meaningful Easter!
Love and ongoing prayers,