There was an interesting story in the BBC this week about what people in the United States are going to do with their stimulus checks, those 1200 dollar little gems heading their way from the government. Some were planning to save the money. Others have chosen to buy groceries. One couple was going to combine their checks and buy a gun. To each his own. The story led me to ask two questions:
What are we doing with this chapter of our lives and where do we want to be on the other side of contagion?
What are we going to do with this chapter of our lives?
What are we going to do with the new insights about ourselves that we are undoubtedly discovering? There is nothing like a bit of isolation to tell us some stories about ourselves, stories that we have sometimes, perhaps often, avoided telling.
Look in the mirror in the morning, when you first get out of bed. Ask yourself this: Who is this face I confront? Outside I am looking like my however number of years, but I am younger inside. I want to be younger inside. What are we going to do with the insight we gain from the merciless mirror every morning?
What are we going to do with our insights about others within our contagion orbit? We are reading a lot about folks who live in abusive homes, where they are not safe, where they are not happy. We are reading about those who find isolation with others. Even when we are happy, even when we love, these days find us looking at those around us with new eyes. We can really get to know people, understand them more profoundly. This isolation, for those preparing for ministry, for those involved in ministry, this isolation offers us time and focus to really get to know people, as we ought to know them.
What are we going to do with our extra time? When we find ourselves with nothing to do, will we choose boredom or another nap, or is this the time to branch out, to find new hobbies and new interests, read new books, and watch more challenging films? There is a world of art and music to explore. No one need ever be bored. Perhaps it’s the time to take up some new pursuit, pottery, macramé, I don’t know but DO something.
What are we going to do with our life of prayer? We have in these days not only the time to pray but the real need to pray. We can devote time to praying for our brothers and sisters, our families, our friends, our communities. This is the hour to prayer, those who are sick, alone, in need, they need us to be ceaseless intercessors. We are not too busy for that. IF we are, our priorities are mixed up. Prayer must come first. Intercession must come first. Seeing to the spiritual needs of others, and indeed, of ourselves must come first.
What are we going to do with God? It is time, friends, it is past time to grow closer to God. I wonder how many folks, in this crisis have turned more readily to God? Millions, I hope. We are missing Mass. We are missing the presence of one another. I wonder how many folks have lost their faith in this crisis? Few, I hope, but for many of our brothers and sisters, faith has been hanging by a thin thread for some time. What does it mean for those folks to be cut off from the Eucharist and from the care of their fellow Christians, their pastors, their bishops?
We may think that this is a down time, from church, from the Sacraments, from community; but I would say it is a revival time.
Our work, our task as religious, as seminary faculty and formation staff, our task is to help people do one thing, find meaning in their lives. We are meaning peddlers, meaning grabbers, meaning holders not only for ourselves but for everyone.
I was thinking about an old Baptist song the other day that might serve us well in these days, Revive Us, Again. Here is one of the stanzas:
Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
Can that be our prayer in these dark days? Can we find ways to make this the opportunity for a revival, a Great Awakening in our social order, in our Church, in our communities, in our homes?
Revive us again! Help us Lord to understand. Help us to understand who we really are, not men and women wandering aimlessly in a haze but your Sons, your Daughters, marked with the sign of the cross and figured in the stain of His blood. Help us to understand your Word, moving powerfully through our lives, brightening our dark days and offering healing to a culture, a world sick from something so much worse than virus, a world made sick by faithlessness. Revive us again!
Revive us again! Help us Lord, to comprehend the power of your Word, newly risen from the grave, newly risen every day and offering a sign of hope to those who suffer, to families who are in pain, to those who are abused, to those who are sick. The power of that Word had the energy, the audacity to crack the stone of that borrowed grave in Jerusalem so long ago. Revive us again!
Revive us again! Help us Lord to appreciate beauty in the red tinged sky of dawn and the gray toned clouds of water and storm. We see you Lord in the wonders of creation, great canyons and small animals. We feel you Lord in the glorious wind, the grace-stung rain, the excellence, pure arête, of the rising spring, the longed-for summer. Revive us again!
Revive us again! Help us Lord, to fathom the depth of that image in the mirror, the beauty of those aging lines, the creativity of those eyes. Help us to know what hope, what words of wisdom that mouth shall speak, what can be experienced in the complexity of each day. Revive us again!
Help us to perceive, to grasp something among us more than crisis, help us to rise to glory, day-by-day. Help us. We have the need, the deepest need for revival.
My brothers and sisters if we can lead ourselves to a realization of this need, we can do what we are called to do, lead the world to insight. We can do what we are called to do, each one of us, to lead a struggling and needy world, to doxos, to glory, to salvation.