Without a doubt, as I reflect upon my 60 years of life, I have learned the greatest lessons through pain, struggle and tough times. Often when in the midst of something difficult, however, it can be hard to find meaning or to gain insight into what can be taken from the experience. Sometimes the passage of time is required to gain perspective.
I suspect the global crisis we are in now, will one day prove to be a teacher to each of us if we are attentive, intentional and prayerful, today and in the future. Said another way, through the very significant hardships, fear, and up-ending consequences of this current time, we have been given the opportunity to reset various aspects of our lives, how we live them, and who we are down deep. When what we are accustomed to is stripped away, we can be forced to explore our values, priorities, and ultimately what matters not only the most, but at all.
While what we learn from this time will be unique to each of us, my hunch is that shared realizations may happen. Having said this, however, I pray that some specific lessons will come from this pandemic. Others likely will have very different hopes. That said, it is my prayer that these months will remind us of our utter dependency upon our loving Creator. That every day we wake up we will embrace the truth that any given moment we have is a gift from God, ripe with opportunities to serve and live selflessly.
After this crisis, I pray that we will embrace face to face relationships with people in person and understand that being in person with another is where true connection and intimacy happens. Perhaps we will learn to distance ourselves from uni-dimensional forms of communication and learn to pause to look into the eyes of the person in front of us.
I pray that we will get back to God’s understanding of the world. Borders, differences in languages, backgrounds, cultures, religions, and various ways of doing things does not mean we are not all God created human beings. All of us are on the same singular planet and hope resides in flipping the way we see others and how we approach global problems. Historically every great challenge that has arisen in human history comes from the distinctions we make, not God.
I pray that what gives us a sense of security and stability will move from that which is ephemeral to that which remains over time. Friendships, families, congregations, integrity, honesty, doing the right thing, empathy, lack of ego, and love, in my view, are where security for daily living comes. Stability arises when who we are in public aligns with who we are in private. Assets come and go. And while wealth can and has been used for great good, stability and security does not come from things temporary. What gives us a foundation is that which we take with us into eternity.
I pray over time that as a result of this crisis, our definition of success will broaden. That our tenderness toward others will increase. That our sense of who our neighbor is will reflect what Jesus taught us. That indeed we will treat every person as we wish to be treated. That we will embrace the truth that when one person hurts, we all hurt. That we will learn to seek joy, share it and laugh more. That we will learn to take what we do seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously. That stress will be embraced as a signal to turn in a different direction. That we will honor this planet as a spectacular gift from God and act accordingly.
While there is much more that I pray for, when it is all said and done, I pray for a dramatic resurgence in love. The love of God. The love of others. And loving compassion toward ourselves. As we say over and over and over at the Chapel, as God is love, the only thing that really matters is love and actions based on such love. I pray that through this time we learn most of all to celebrate, emulate, communicate, and live our lives based on love as our number one priority. Idealistic? Certainly, but we have chosen to follow Jesus who calls us to His ways, not ours.
Please know we are praying for you and we want to know how we can be helpful to you and those you love.
Profound, powerful, no-nonsense message Fr. Robert. Thank you. Your words brought tears to my eyes. I’m sharing it with my family and beseeching them to read every word.
Robert, you will have a big reward in heaven – I just know it!