by Father Mark Goldasich
Autumn began this past Tuesday . . . not with a bang, but a whimper. For that matter, in this crazy year of 2020, so did spring and summer.
A few weeks ago, as this pandemic continued its hold, I found myself saying what many others were: We’re stuck in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Each day just repeats itself in an endless loop, with no change or relief in sight. I totally agreed with the meme that said: “I’m not counting this year as part of my age since I didn’t get to use it!”
My spirit needed a major overhaul. Many of the activities that usually enriched my life were canceled. I’ve never gone through months of not eating out with friends or not attending several theater productions or sporting events. What a bummer of a summer!
But just when the “woe is me” mindset was beginning to color my whole worldview, this story gave me a much-needed perspective:
Pastor Tim Keller tells about his brother-in-law, who would never wear a seat belt in the car, even though he hounded him about it.
One day, however, when the brother-in-law picked him up at the airport, he was wearing a seat belt.
“What happened?” Pastor Keller asked. “What changed you?”
“I went to visit a friend of mine in the hospital who was in a car accident and went through the windshield,” he said. “He had two or three hundred stitches in his face. I said to myself, ‘I’d better wear my seat belt.’”
“But did you not know that if you didn’t wear your seat belt you would go through the windshield if you had an accident?” asked Pastor Keller.
“Of course, I knew it,” he replied. “When I went to the hospital to see my friend, I got no new information, but the information I had became new. The information got real to my heart and finally sank down and affected the way I live.” (Story found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)
This was a news flash moment: When I admitted that COVID-19 wasn’t going away any time soon, I realized that I still had the power to choose how it was going to affect the way that I live. I could waste my days bemoaning the pandemic or use my time instead to creatively deal with all the disruption it’s brought.
Now that I think about it, I’ve actually been subconsciously coping in a creative manner for weeks. Let’s talk masks, for instance. Since it’s wise to wear them, why not make them fun? A few weeks ago, I ordered some from a Croatian lady in New York, who patterns them after the Croatian flag with solid blue on one-half and a red-and-white checkerboard on the other. And I can’t help but smile whenever I wear them since she markets them as “Cro-vid” masks!
In the baptisms that I’ve done over the past months, we’ve had a lot of laughs over how memorable these pictures will be to the child growing up — with parents, godparents and me, all masked up. Oh, the stories we’ll have to share.
If nothing else, this pandemic has disturbed me . . . and that’s not such a bad thing, as this prayer, attributed to Sir Francis Drake, reminds us:
“Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope and love.”
What say we live these words for the rest of 2020 and end the year, not with a whimper, but a bang!