Are you stuck at home? Or are you safe at home?
Sometimes, changing one little word can alter our perspective. Living in the time of coronavirus has presented us all with a challenge: Do we choose to concentrate on what’s not there — no public Masses, limits on basic goods to purchase, travel restrictions — or do we instead focus on the good that’s there?
This story hits the nail on the head:
Jim Smith went to church one Sunday morning. He heard the organist miss a note during the prelude, and he winced. He saw a teenager talking when everybody was supposed to be bowed in silent prayer. He felt like the usher was watching to see what he put in the collection and it made him boil. He caught the priest making a slip of the tongue five times in the homily by actual count. He slipped out the side door during the closing hymn and muttered, “Never again. What a bunch of clods and hypocrites.”
Ron Jones went to church that same Sunday. He heard the organist play an arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress” and thrilled at its majesty. He heard a teenager take a moment in the service to whisper a simple, moving message to her friend of the difference faith makes in her life. He was glad to see that this parish was sharing in a special collection for the hungry children in Nigeria. He especially appreciated the homily, which answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. He thought as he walked out the front doors, “How can a man come here and not feel the presence of God?” (Adapted from a story in “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James S. Hewett.)
Two men at the same Mass. Each found what he was looking for.
This issue of The Leaven wants to shift our perspective a bit on the coronavirus pandemic. Without minimizing its seriousness and the havoc it’s unleashed on the world, that’s not the entire story. Many people have stepped forward in this time to alleviate its devastating effects. We’re privileged to tell a few of those stories here — from the selfless work of Catholic Charities to seamstresses sewing face masks; from the courageous work of local nurses to calls to join the Memorare Army.
Archdiocesan priests are doing their part as well to respond in creative, positive ways, as did Father Nathan Haverland in our front-page story. I’m not as enterprising — or energetic — in my efforts!
I’ve simply been using the parish picture directory as I celebrate a private Mass, changing the page each day (and remembering, as well, those who aren’t pictured).
John Bosio gives hints on page 10 on how to stay sane during the pandemic. Here are some things helping me:
• Being grateful. I have a home to shelter in; plenty of food (thanks to wonderful parishioners who make sure I’m well-fed); the internet and a cellphone to keep in touch; electricity and clean water; and plenty more.
• Celebrating light. In these days when I get overwhelmed by the “darkness” of the news, I turn on my Christmas lights. Yes, I still have my tabletop Christmas tree up, as well as a string of lights around a doorway. Don’t judge. They make me smile and remind me that the Light is always with us.
• Polka-ing. Brian McCarty and some members of Kolograd have posted polkas on Facebook (and I have plenty of polka CDs). It’s hard to be serious and gloomy when doing the “Chicken Dance.”
• Trusting in God. I came across this unattributed meme recently, and it makes a lot of sense:
“I trust God . . . and I wear my seatbelt.
I trust God . . . and I use oven mitts with really hot dishes.
I trust God . . . and I lock my house at night.
I trust God . . . and I have smoke detectors in my house.
I trust God . . . and I take my prescribed medicines.
I trust God . . . and I will follow the best guidelines to share the task of flattening the curve.
Acting with caution and wisdom does not indicate a lack of trust in God.” Hang in there, Leaven readers, and look for what’s best in these days.