Father Mark, Reflections

Reentry

Blessings on Easter Monday! The following may be somewhat premature…

Now that we’re celebrating the Risen Lord albeit with more space than we’re used to, and that some of the news is looking more positive about COVID-19, our thoughts might be turning more forward to when the restrictions we’ve been experiencing and our mental, emotional and spiritual reactions to these might come back to normal. Governor Abbot is expected to offer new guidelines that may be less restrictive this week. It would not be unusual to feel some frustration about wanting to break free before wisdom indicates the time.

I remember, as with many of you about a game many of us played as children called “Cooties.” The game turned into a practice of social distancing, sometimes ostracism in grade school when the opposite sex with which we were uncomfortable would have “cooties.” We didn’t want to get to close to you know who because we don’t want to get their cooties.

We’re entering our fifth week of isolating socially. Research shows that even though we may not like our present social situation, we’ve spent enough time doing it that reintegrating like we were just over a month ago, may not be as easy as we might think. It can be really difficult to change direction.

We’ve been distancing ourselves so that we don’t contract or give the COVID 19 virus to each other. We don’t want cooties to spread. Whenever restrictions begin to be softened, for some it will be normal to feel awkward getting close to others again–it could feel very new, especially when there is still so much “unknown” from the invisible contagion.

I only write this to tell you to first go easy on yourself. We could feel foolish feeling hesitant to become close to others, much less hug them. I want to assure you that this is absolutely normal and nothing to worry about. We will also see others who may feel awkward becoming close to us or others for the same reason.

Christians have the advantage of having a Master who is excellent extraordinaire at the practice of being vulnerable and through his resurrection sets us free to do the same. So there is no shame in being vulnerable, being subject to one another in love, admitting our anxiety or whatever we are experiencing to one another and accepting where the other is with love and understanding. This also includes allowing the “other” the distance and space they still need without taking it personally.

I have heard enough from you and others and have observed (at a distance) something of how this whole event has affected us over this last month to this point. There is no shame in this. We are human and have limitations in our own unique ways. We also have our strengths. This is why St. Paul said that each of us as a member of Christ’s Body, the Church are important. Our strengths support the vulnerabilities in others and our vulnerabilities are supported by the strengths of others. I have witnessed this for myself this path month as I was forced to enter the unknown world of computer technology, dependent on our Tech Committee for whom I am very, very grateful.

So be the caring people you have always been and express your needs to the other so that each receives the space and time they need to adjust. The psalmist knew from experience that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” The psalmist didn’t give us a timed itinerary. So we continue to live each day as we have.

One thing I would hope we would do is tell one another what have you been learning about human beings (yourself included) and God since “the change.” Telling our stories and listening to those of others can teach, strengthen and heal us because within your stories the Good News of Christ has been sewn.

And as always, please feel free to call me. I’m getting pretty good on Zoom, Skype and am still better on the phone until the time we can see each other face to face.

Peace and Love in Christ,

Fr. Mark