The morning came too soon, which has happened too during this past Lent, during this forced-upon-us time of sacrifice which has sort of robbed the world of the opportunity to give up some things voluntarily.
I notice it in all the little things. Unable to work at my office. Supporting local restaurants only with carryout. Taking great precautions before and after a trip to the grocery store.
I can’t see my dad, who lives in an assisted living facility. Donna and I get to spend time with three of our grandchildren, yet we’re concerned about the risks our eldest daughter and son-in-law have to take working with the public.
Where are sports? We should be reveling in the return of the Cardinals along with watching the Blues chase another Stanley Cup and college basketball shining moments. We should be going to the theatre, celebrating weddings, mourning loved ones at funerals, worshipping in church. We should be greeting each other as we did in the past.
So much we took for granted, stuff that wouldn’t have had a remote chance of slipping into my thoughts early in the morning until a few weeks ago.
That morning, I felt stressed, even in the comfort of my bed. The rumination nearly overwhelmed me.
Life feels so strange, I thought. Is this some weird dream? Where do we go? What can we do?
Just outside the window behind me, a bird twilled a lovely morning song. “Come to me,” I seem to hear Jesus say.
Indeed, it’s springtime. All around us, birds are singing. Dogs are barking. Spring rains are falling. Flowers are blooming. Even though they can’t see most of their friends, children are laughing. Why? Because birds and dogs and the rain and flowers and probably most children don’t know much about COVID-19.
They do what they do, what God designed them to do. They did it before quarantines, will do it during quarantines and will continue to do it as long as God keeps sending birds and dogs and rain and flowers … and children.
“For I am convinced,” St. Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul could have tossed “nor pandemics” in there as well. The gist, perhaps, is to accept all of those things, be they painful or pleasant.
In the devotional “I Thirst, 40 days with Mother Teresa,” Father Joseph Langford wrote: “We need to make peace with our crosses so that we can carry them, and not just drag them along behind us. We need to become friends with the crosses God sends our way.”
I got in some steps later that particular day with my hourly five-minute hike through the neighborhood. I saw a mom playing basketball with her teenage son. Five members of a family riding bikes together. A young couple pushing their baby in a stroller. Every stride onto a different street revealed more people outdoors enjoying a lovely afternoon, people eager to say hello and wave.
Normally at that time, I’d be in my office cubicle, as would many people. Honestly, we all would have preferred life that way, with normalcy. But we embraced the cross of social-distancing. We slowed down. We noticed beauty and each other.
Why are so many of us anxious? No matter what happens in life, God dresses flowers with beauty and feeds birds with adequate food; He will dress us and feed us, too. Tomorrow will have troubles, different troubles, because there always are troubles.
In it all, there is peace, there is love, and they are available today to everyone. “Come to me,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest.”
Please, stay safe and healthy.
Eisenbath is a parishioner at St. Cletus Parish in St. Charles.