This month’s blog series is “Gathering the Graces”. St. Ignatius invites us to ask God for a grace each time we pray. This month, blog contributors will share stories about the graces God has given them and where God is leading them.
I suppose the word of the year is “pandemic”. The dictionary describes a pandemic as “an occurrence affecting persons over a wide area, such as a continent or the entire world. Yep. That’s exactly what we are experiencing. Our state has been in quarantine since mid-March. During this time, I have been saddened by stories of many being ill or dying alone, supply shortages, loss of jobs, social and racial injustices, feeling helpless, separation from family and faith community. Even though I’ve been spared from the Coronavirus, at times I felt scared and overwhelmed. My prayer has been “Lord, bring us all through this.”
When things really get bad, my prayer changes to “Lord, where are you in this?” God answered my question by giving me insights and graces. So many graces in fact, that I’m calling it a pandemic of graces. These realized graces were gifts to me, but I know we all have been experiencing them – locally, nationally, globally. If we can experience a viral pandemic, it seems fit that our generous God would make God’s presence known to us in a graced pandemic. Here are some of the many graces God has given me in these past months. What graces have you received?
The grace of Hope
During our quarantine, two of my friends became grandmothers for the first time. They were disappointed that they could not be present when their grandchildren were born, but were thrilled nonetheless. I congratulated them, but all the while I kept wondering what kind of life these babies will have, growing up in such uncertain times. It was then that God’s grace came to me. These babies are our hope for a better world. They will have opportunities and choices to make things better. These are two new lives born with the possibility to carry us forward. This gave me hope.
The grace of Connection
When I was bemoaning the fact that I could not be with my family and friends, God reminded me that I actually had family and friends a phone call away. God also showed me that I had another family I could pray for and empathize with. It was the broadest sense of family, one that encompassed the entire world. There were others in a similar situation, some in more dire circumstances, but we were all bound by our vulnerability to the virus and to the effects of injustice. We all had a human spirit that longed to connect and survive. We are all God’s creation no matter where we are on this earth. And so I began to watch the news reports from around the world with my global family in mind and felt the grace of being in touch with other souls around the world. This made me feel connected.
The grace of Compassion
As I spent more days at home with most of what I needed and wanted, God made me aware of those who had nothing, were unemployed, unwelcome, marginalized. It stirred in me a sense of thanksgiving, but also a desire to balance the inequalities and prejudices locally and around the world. I take for granted things that some don’t even have access to. These times have put me in touch with inequality in medical care, supplies, justice. I am coming to understand there are many ways of being an activist for positive change. First, I must educate myself to the problems at hand, then be a listener so others feel heard. The grace of compassion can go a long way in promoting positive radical change.
The grace of Being Part of God’s Creation
In Louisiana, we usually go from a mild winter straight into a sweltering summer. This year, spring actually happened. The days were bright and beautiful with cool breezes and low humidity. The birds were out in droves. The flowers were blooming. Neighbors were getting reacquainted (while wearing masks). My husband and I spent lots of time in our backyard. The more I was outside, the more I felt I was part of God’s creation. I saw how unique I was, just like each flower, each bird, (each mosquito). I felt I belonged to something much bigger than myself. And the best thing was that unlike the inanimate objects of nature, I could have a relationship with my creator. I could actually listen and speak to God. This was the grace of being part of God’s creation.
There were so many more graces given to me just during these last few months, humility, silence, patience. But the best grace of all is knowing that in spite of the sadness and hardships of this virus pandemic, God is with us, sending us a pandemic of graces.
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5