These are not normal times. “Testing. Testing. Testing. Stay home. Flatten the curve.” We hear words like these so often that they are beginning to sound like clichés. We are keenly aware, even from our self-isolation, of personal and social problems that are exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. We hear about the studies of young people and the extreme loneliness they experience. We note the stories about mental health issues, about family violence, about fear and anxiety, about people who have lost jobs or closed their businesses, about the pressures on our health care workers and about the increasing numbers of people relying on food pantries. And, of course, we hear about those who are ill and those who have died. This is a short list of the challenges people face. We are living in difficult times.
As these stories of pain and hardship wash over me, I find myself reflecting on a group of French theologians who, following the devastation of World War II, developed a theology of gift, that everything is God’s gift to us. That such a theology emerged from their pain and loss seems remarkable to me. Some of you who have been involved in religious educational programs may recognize this theology as the basis for the text series, Blessed Are We. So I began to ask myself, how am I and how are we blessed? How am I experiencing God’s presence in my life now? What symbols speak to me of God’s blessings at this time?
This is what came up for me:
• Most important: our connections with one another; our efforts to reach out and support one another – we share deep love and commitment among us.
• Walks to see the red buds blooming against the spring green trees.
• Disinfecting rituals for stuff we bring into our homes.
• Phones, videoconferences, facetime and other ways of connecting with friends, family and co-workers.
• A dedicated staff that continues the work of our province.
• A good supply of soap.
• More time for reflection and prayer.
• A book I have been waiting to read and finally started it.
• Leisurely breakfasts.
• A computer that holds my entire office, so I can easily work from home.
• Time to clean out and reorganize.
• Opportunities to listen to my music collection.
• Sunshine, rain (no snow in my yard).
• Listening to friends, family and neighbors who are directly dealing with COVID-19.
• Time and space to clean and oil my bicycle.
These are just a few of the daily blessings I note. What can you list for yourself? While making your list, take a few minutes to listen to a song that celebrates the blessings among us. Listen to the lyrics of the song, “You’re the blessings that exist. The small things that are bliss. The gift to realize that everything is a gift.”
~Sister Lynne Schmidt, SSND