Most of us have experienced starting a new job, a hobby, or a home fix-it project with abundant energy and enthusiasm. Whether it’s something we’ve been trying to get to for some time or simply fun, once we’ve gathered the materials and checked the plan, we’re more than eager to work through the steps quickly. Even snags don’t get us down when we’re in that mode. It’s as if we have a heightened awareness of how to proceed. And once we have learned a skill, we can pace ourselves and stay focused.
I thought that the pandemic was going to proceed like that, especially when I started out with such great enthusiasm. “We’ve got this,” as if we were going on a long camping trip. Unfortunately, it felt like that one camping trip when we forgot the tent stakes, we stopped too late in the day to set up camp properly, the seven kids were way too hungry, we hadn’t tested the oil lamp ahead of time, and it looked like rain was imminent. Between the questions and the tempers and trying to keep track of everyone, the first evening of the three-week, cross-country trip did not auger well.
Despite my best intentions to keep an upbeat attitude while the quarantine continued, it has seemed more like that memorable camping trip. During the last eight months, I have fallen five times, broken ribs on each side, got a rash from my mask that spread all over my body because of an auto-immune disease, and lost a good-sized chunk from behind my kneecap that caused sharp, stabbing pain and buckling of my knee. So, for the last six weeks, I’ve taken physical therapy three times a week.
This week, as I’ve thought things over, this hasn’t been like that camping trip as much as it has just been like ordinary life, although for many who have lost loved ones or jobs, this has been a most difficult “ordinary” time.
So, I’ve thought through those times that were difficult throughout my life and tried to remember what helped me to get through them with joy.
Always, I have needed to remember to keep my face turned toward the Lord, and then I needed to think about ways to love and serve my neighbors.
Even during the pandemic, I’ve been able to pray, write, and encourage others, even though my body was struggling. It was with joy, then, that I saw the Gospel for today: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.