GLIMPSE OF GOD FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 18TH
Last week I wrote about Christmas in July despite the pandemic and how we can find joy and hope amid such a continuously challenging time. This week I am going to focus on the various pandemic items or procedures that dominated our life then and continue to semi-dominate our life today. Now that we have a vaccine and most people have been vaccinated, we can begin to live our new normal and experience a newfound freedom from the chains of Covid 19. Chains such as getting Covid19, spreading it to others, isolation, anxiety, discouragement, despair, depression, unemployment, and zoom meetings vs meeting in person. But now that many restrictions have been lifted, several vaccines that are readily available for people to get, fewer deaths are occurring, and fewer people are getting sick from the Corona virus, I would say that we can celebrate with joy and hope that we are on the right path to healing and wholeness, but we should not take the right path for granted or let our guard down. The required safety items or procedures that were initiated were not of our choice but dictated to us as a way for us to remain healthy and avoid getting sick. Where we had to follow the directives because they were seen as the best way for us to maintain good health and avoid getting covid19 and spreading the virus, we are now given the choice. If we are fully vaccinated, we do not need to wear a mask, except in medical institutions, we can gather in groups, give hugs, and sit next to each other. We are still afforded the opportunity to use hand sanitizer since it is everywhere. We still need to be vigilant with our safety procedures so that we can avoid a resurgence of Covid19, but I believe that if we adhere to our new normal guidelines, we will continue to emerge as a physically, emotionally, and healthier people. This is a reason to proclaim Joy to the World.
Last year at this time, we could hardly think about Christmas because the isolation and anxiety over unemployment, getting sick from Covid, and not being able to see loved ones, was weighing many people down. Stores are still trying to recover from being closed and unemployment is still high, yet many businesses are hiring, which is a sign of hope. The shining star is there to guide those who are seeking to come to know the Savior through the pandemic, the star is there to enlighten us as to where God was and is during these pandemic days, to see the good that came out of it, and to see how it has changed and transformed each one of us.
As I reflect on certain items or procedures that have dominated our life for the past 16 months, I do so with the lens of recognizing their specific and unique spirituality. I can say that I had not thought about the spirituality of the mask, or soap and water, hand sanitizer, a thermometer, surgical gloves, or those 6ft social distance signs, but I believe that in all that we say and do, observe, and think, has a certain spiritual meaning because we process it with, and in regard, to our faith and seeing God’s action in our life. A lot of good has evolved from the pandemic if we are open to recognizing it.
SUNDAY “- A MASK” – what do we hide behind and how does removing it make us vulnerable? Did wearing a mask make you feel more secure because people could not see your facial expressions? Your stress, worry, concerns, joys, anger…?
As you have undergone personal and spiritual transformation, can you hang your mask on the tree and remind yourself that you do not need to hide from others or deny what you are experiencing? A mask provides us with a sense of security and protection, yet in the sight of God, we need only to turn to Him for He is the true source of security and protection. In our relationship with Him, wearing a mask is like wearing false pride and not allowing our insecurities and vulnerabilities to be healed. God would like us to be honest with Him and if we choose to run from honesty, then we are not being our authentic, genuine, and best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become.
MONDAY – “GLOVES “(surgical) - We wear gloves for several reasons: to keep from spreading infection and to keep our hands from harm. When we place gloves on our hands, we are unable to feel the softness of one’s skin, or the texture and material of what we are handling. We are safe from any abrasive substances as well as infectious ones. So, in our spiritual life, for what or why do we wear gloves? Are we trying to avoid someone that we feel has an abrasive personality or is too controlling, or one that can infect us with false ideas, temptations? Have you been able to see the person of Christ in them and can you hang the gloves on your tree?
TUESDAY - “HAND SANITIZER” - to sanitize (disinfect, sterilize, decontaminate) our hands from any germs or infections that may have been transferred. What do you want to or need to sterilize or decontaminate in your spiritual life? What infection is spreading throughout your entire being, through to your heart, spirit and mind that is causing you to feel less than your best self and needs to be cleaned out?
What infection is causing you to stay down and not rise to the call of discipleship? Is it gossip, worry, sin, addiction, ego? What has been your spiritual sanitizer that has enabled you to be free of your infection?
Can you hang your hand sanitizer on the tree to remind you that you are free of infection, that you have been cleansed and decontaminated through your prayer life, your relationship with God, the sacraments of the Church and your relationship with others?
WEDNESDAY – “HAND SOAP AND WATER” – soap and water can clean off dirt off very quickly because it is not very deep or grounded in. With our spiritual life, what weakness do we struggle with that need the soap and water of the sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist so that the weakness will not become deep and grounded, where the graces of the sacrament will strengthen us to stay clean and become stronger? What can you put on the tree that represents your cleansing? What type of soap best signifies your cleansing?
Is it a bar of scented soap one that cleans seep and leaves a fresh scent to remind you that you are clean, is it liquid body soap where you can pour it on your being and spread it slowly, meticulously and with desire to clean even the areas that are hardest to reach where a bar can fall out of your hands?
THURSDAY – “A THERMOMETER” – it takes your temperature. What is your spiritual temperature? Are you running a fever because you have an infection? One that comes from the mistruths of the devil or the temptations of the world that are permeating your whole being? Is your temperature high because you are worn out by the journey and cannot seem to get your mind and heart on fire about your faith, or God or prayer? Various worldly temptations and detours and spiritual infections have caused you to expel your energy and have permeated your being What can you do to rid yourself of the infection so that your temperature goes down? To normal? What is normal when it comes to our spiritual life and the right temperature? Sometimes when our spiritual temperature is high, we are invited to recognize where we have diverted from the course that God has placed before us and have listened or embraced a short cut or another road. When our temperature is too low, we are invited to see how we are making it through each day but without any effort, the same things without any extra effort.
We can be spiritually anemic where our blood flow our energy is depleted and only with God can we regain that energy and increase our spiritual blood flow, that which will permeate our being and give us new life, In and through the blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Spiritually we can make it through each day with some prayer, some acts of kindness and mercy, yet our actions are not wholehearted. Can you hang a thermometer on the tree to help you recognize that you have risen above the challenges and have resumed your walk with Christ as a stronger and more determined follower?
FRIDAY – “6FT DISTANCE FLOOR/WALL SIGNS”
We have had to keep social distance so to avoid spreading or catching another’s germs that could lead us to getting the corona virus. 6 feet was designated as the safest distance when it came to being contagious and spreading the infection to those around you. You see the signs on the floors and walls of stores, eating establishments, they were posted at ballparks when we were allowed to re-enter them, they are still posted in some stores, yet many people fail to follow the sign and are right behind the person with no social distance. Spiritually how do we keep socially distant from another? Is it because of our ego and having to be the center of attention and not allow another who is suffering to speak, share or be consoled? Do we ignore the plight of others because we are so focused on our cross that we fail to want to help another to carry theirs? As you choose to hang a 6ft social distance sign on your tree, are you able to recognize where you have gone the extra prayer, act of kindness, acts of mercy, to become a stronger builder of God’s kingdom here on earth, and to do that you and I need to be spiritually close, not distant, to our God and each other?
SATURDAY – “YOUR OWN SIGN OF HOPE”.
What do you have that you often looked at, held, observed that has kept you sane this past year? What was your symbol of hope that kept you from despair, your sign of healing that kept you from dwelling and getting stuck in bitterness, anger, and discouragement? What or who has been there for you to talk to, someone you could trust and vent with, seek encouragement from and likewise console? As you look back, are you able to recognize that your strength, determination, and perseverance, has been how you made it through? Can and do you recognize the hand of God through your pandemic days? If you have received the vaccine, do you feel, have you experienced a new freedom? You have emerged from the darkness of the tomb into the light of healing and wholeness. How do you feel? What symbol or symbols will you hang on your tree that represents God’s gift of hope and healing, wholeness, and happiness?
What will you use as a tree topper that will being attention to your tree, to your ability to be resilient, to be hopeful and not hopeless? How will your tree topper bring the light of healing and love, the healing and love of Christ to others? The star, an angel, a significant symbol, these all bring the focus to the tree and what hangs on it. Don’t you want others to see how you have survived the pandemic, that way they can be inspired and in return inspire you as they share their story, their symbols?