At 18 years of age, I was struck in my Volkswagen by an 18-wheeler on a major expressway, as I was going to a college interview for a full tuition scholarship. Thinking my chances for this scholarship had ended, I was awarded the scholarship two months later.
At age 23, working as a juvenile detention worker, I experienced the travesty of what ignorance, violence, poverty, and racial prejudice did to young people. Previous to that, I did not have a clue.
At age 33, thinking that I had my own bachelor career path figured out, I met the love of my life and married her, moving from Dallas to Chicago. So much for best laid plans.
Two weeks prior to our wedding, my parents were struck in their vehicle by a drunk driver incapacitating them for months. Life can change in an instant.
At age 43 having emotionally and spiritually surrendered to the reality that we would not have children, we became pregnant, and pregnant then again seven months after our first child. The power of true surrender.
At ages 47, 51 and 55, I was unemployed for three months at a time due to unexpected and unprecedented changes in the workplace. I became less dependent on my work for my identity.
At age 64, I am challenged as a therapist to encourage and to empower hope in others who have become anxious, desperate, and inconsolable. Sometimes, I think I learn from my clients more than they learn from me.
Today we are all challenged in the crisis of COVID 19, to integrate a new way of thinking about the health safety and needs of ourselves and of one another. We are challenged to think again.
In coping with crisis, most of us have come to appreciate what we took for granted. Amidst the pandemic that we are currently facing I have come to recognize the simple things that I took for granted such as enjoying the physical presence of friends and neighbors, the ability to interact with my clients face-to-face, and the ready availability of goods and services that help me enjoy life. Church, work, school, graduations, weddings, birthday celebrations, sports have all been altered. I have also come to a deeper understanding of how our world is so interconnected and interdependent of its many parts. I believe and hope that we all have become more conscious of our presumptions and more conscious of our actions. Amidst the present crisis, I hope that we all have become more present to people and experiences that we were so easily able to ignore or discard once before.
This Sunday’s Readings present us with fundamental invitations/choices:
In the Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7, we are called to include those we have not previously included in our vision of community and world.
In I Peter 2:4-9, we are asked to not reject the stone that will become the cornerstone of our faith and understanding.
And in John’s Gospel 14:1-12 we are to pay witness to the closeness and care of the Divine in the everyday activity of life.
There are so many things that can separate us from one another at this time: national boundaries, political ideologies, the need to return to work, the desire for health and safety at places of business, the expectations for socialization and expressions of leisure, the drive to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the care for all to have what they need, the caution to be prepared for the worst, the comfort of things to return back to normal, the compulsion to move forward, the search for a vaccine, the immediacy for a cure, the propensity to despair, the promise of hope. But make no mistake about it, our world has dramatically changed, and we have the choice and will have the invitation to make it better.
When all things are said and done in our current crisis, I personally hope for four things that our faith today invites:
I hope that we will all appreciate what we have without taking the small things for granted.
I hope that we will all become a people more radically inclusive than exclusive of one another and each other’s needs.
I hope that we will all be more ready to take care of one another than rely on political and governmental systems to take care of us.
And I hope that when we think we all have learned all the lessons that our current crisis has taught us, that we will all take the invitation to do like mom said and “think again”.
Happy Mother’s Day!