February Issue of Reflections and Connections
How often have we heard that we live in unprecedented times? While I can indeed affirm that, I also know that the on-going concerns of “ordinary” time remain and require my attention. The need for social distancing, masking, and limited gatherings means that our daily tasks and encounters are no longer carried out in the usual manner. Distractions, such as leisurely shopping, eating out with a friend, and gatherings with extended family and friends are minimal or even non-existent. New ways of engaging have caught on such as spending more time on social media, exercising, or finding ways to enjoy the outdoors (cold weather in northern climes notwithstanding).
More alone time and restrictions on gatherings have led some, myself included, to take stock of how I really wish to spend my precious gift of time. I can allow the time to weigh heavily on my hands or I can find ways of filling it with meaningful or even frivolous yet necessary activities. The pandemic and all the social unrest currently roiling society have presented us with opportunities for choosing since we cannot be about the “same old, same old” mode of operation.
In words from Kayla Oakes, “Because the sureties of our past lives have been steadily stripped away, what remains is our ability to live in the present moment.” If I can accept that, my choice to mask up and curtail my freedom of movement are new ways of showing my love of neighbor and my commitment to the common good. New awareness awaits if only I pay attention now, in this moment, to what is going on within me, around me and in my world. What is happening is not just about me or those in my bubble. It is both beyond and within our comprehension. “ ’For lack of attention,’ Evelyn Underhill wrote, ‘a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.’ So, too, do a thousand visions of oneness with others elude us in this time of separation, until we notice them shimmering, just on the edge of our vision.” (Kayla Oakes)
These, indeed, are the times our God has given us. May our sorrows and concerns be mixed with hope and joy as we live today in order to prepare for tomorrow.
In the peace and love of Christ,
Sister Jean Steffes, CSA