By Barb Arland-Fye
Listening, heart stirred by the tender, uplifting melody and lyrics of “O God Beyond All Praising,” I reflect on what all of us have lived through these past three months.
Everyone has experienced a loss of some sort, large or small, and the lingering sense of uncertainty of what the future holds in this time of the coronavirus pandemic exposes our shared vulnerability.
We truly depend on one another. God placed us on this planet as companions on the journey and now is the time to hold hands, in the virtual sense if not the physical sense for now.
We have made sacrifices, some not of our choosing, but for the common good to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Until recently, we have been mostly cooped up in our homes, telecommuting, homeschooling, and video conferencing with our older loved ones instead of visiting them in person.
Many, many people have lost jobs; some risk eviction from their homes or apartments. Some people have become seriously ill or have died without a loved one to provide comfort at their bedside.
We do what we can to ease the pain and loss through prayers and financial contributions or moral support. We do that out of agape love, the highest form of love. The “expression of love turned outward toward concern for others” (https://tinyurl.com/y6v5g3ap).
One of the verses from “O God Beyond All Praising” speaks to that love: “… and whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill, we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still ….”
So much about the coronavirus remains unknown, puzzling the brightest minds on earth. However, our health officials tell us that wearing masks reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus. I believe God calls us to trust these messengers.
The sight of people wearing masks fills me with tenderness. These mask-wearers convey a sense of acceptance that they do not have the answers but are determined to prevent someone else from suffering.
I wear my mask with the hope that the person I pass by will never contract COVID-19, which has claimed nearly 500,000 lives worldwide. Sometimes I feel silly wearing a mask or, on occasion, hot and bothered. I wear it anyway in public places where I will be in close proximity to others. I do not wear a mask on bike rides or on early-morning walks where I have little contact with anyone else.
In my mind’s eye, I see the cover of America magazine from a month or so ago of an Italian man in his hospital bed, surrounded by healthcare professionals as he reviews some papers. The patient died about a week later. He was one of us, a child of God making his way on this journey we call life on earth.
Another image comes to mind: the ordination Masses of Father James Flattery and Deacon Andrew Rauenbuehler earlier this month in their hometown parishes. Each wears a mask, and so does Bishop Thomas Zinkula and the few other clergy and family members in attendance. This is not how they had hoped to celebrate such a joyous event. They accepted these changes for love of God and the people to whom they will minister.
My mind fills with emotion as I think about the sacrifice and the love they demonstrate for God and for us. This phrase from the opening lines of “O God Beyond All Praising” remains with me: “… for we can only wonder at every gift you send, at blessings without number and mercies without end.”
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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