Father Mark, Reflections


I remember playing pinball in college.  It was a great distraction from studying.  Standing tall with both hands on the flippers, close enough to the machine to “nudge” it if necessary gave me a real sense of physical power and control that you don’t get with virtual/video games.  One would have to watch the spin on the ball to know how to time the hit with the flipper.  An eighth of an inch would mean the difference between bonus points and losing the ball as we called it “down the tubes.”  In the background we heard the tune “Tommy” by the Who with the words, “…sure plays a mean pin ball.”

This may sound a bit strange but once I wondered what it was like to be the ball in the machine instead of the player—being pushed and shot from place to place at a dizzying pace, without any say in what was happening to it.  This is an exaggeration of course for how we might feel some of the time now as the COVID-19 is in its natural expansion phase that was initiated before the social distancing began.  We, unlike the pin ball, have choices.

The sense of isolation whether it is chosen or enforced challenges three dynamics of our lives besides economic.   Our personal sense of self-determination, connection with others and feeling competent to create can have all most likely been compromised by now.  These three major losses can affect our mental and spiritual health, leaving us moody, irritable, withdrawn, disconnected, anxious or depressed.

Our thinking can become foggy because our sense of rhythm is out of sync.  Our minds keep looking for ways to undo this, as I read the news people are grasping for the miracle cure “out there” somewhere before enough research can verify the pharmaceutical’s effectiveness.  Resisting “what is” instead of learning to adjust to it, by cultivating our inner resources of being spiritually grounded and choosing to find ways to adapt is normal, at least in the beginning.  We don’t like change—especially change that has been imposed on us.   Grief is a good word to explain what is going on with us.

What are some of your spiritual resources and activities that you use to maintain your spiritual and mental stability at this time?  I will be speaking about more tools in the days to come.

One question I reflect on is, “How did my parents manage to make it through The Great Depression and World War II?  How did my grandparents get through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1917-1918 and World War I?   These events were far more intense and enduring that what we are going through now.  How did our veterans get through        Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan?   What might they have to teach us?   Of course the ultimate question is: “How did Jesus manage to get through the last three days of his life on earth?”

More reflections will follow.


Fr. Mark