I’m not a person to be afraid of things. As a kid, the school bully never particularly frightened me. I came from a peaceful family, so I was never afraid to go home. If I got in trouble, I just resigned to face the music, take the consequences, and move on. Now, my mother’s fly swatter was another matter. She could put a sting on whatever bare skin she found!
Julia and I were discussing this, and both of us grew up with mothers who had limited sympathy, and “suck it up and move on” attitudes. My mother’s solution to everything was Paregoric. If I complained of a headache, out came the Paregoric. As a result, I attended kindergarten through 12th grade without missing a day of school. That’s just the way I was brought up – “be tough and fearless. Move on.” And I’m sure this has colored my life these many years.
But I have to admit that I am afraid of this Coronavirus. The idea that I can get it from even my best friend, or someone in a grocery aisle, or at church – is a frightening thing. I wear my mask. I’m mostly eating at home. I don’t go to events and places that have been very much a part of my life. I used to gas up my car once a week. Now it’s once a month. And of course my life long Sunday schedule has been flipped upside down. And there are moments when I feel a fear for all humankind that I have never felt before.
I fess up to this, because some of you may be experiencing something similar. Perhaps you too find yourself honestly afraid, like you have not been afraid before. Perhaps you too sometimes wonder if we’re going to make it through this – and what our world is going to look like when we finally pull out of this.
At a recent Zoom meeting with diocesan team members involved with transition, Canon Hoffman opened with a great poem by Fr. Richard Hendrick entitled “An Appeal”. It’s too long to print here, but these two lines jumped out at me:
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
That just really said something to me. I can hear my mother saying, “Take a deep breath and move on.”
So – Today, breath. It’s in that breath that the spirit moves, and from which we draw life. And life has to be our focus in these days and times when we are most afraid.