As the shelter in place order remains in place, I find myself more often focused on the “what will happen next?” Will we or won’t we be open in time for summer camp? I tell myself the same thing I tell anyone who asks, “At this time we just don’t know”. We are doing all we can to stay on the path of opening in some way but truly only time will tell. This uncertainty is certainly challenging to abide, but finding ways to ground myself in the present moment has been helpful.
I find steady footing in what I am choosing to work on, read, watch, and listen to. Before the “shelter in place”, I started reading “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. It is one of those books that gives you a nugget of inspiration to carry with you throughout the day as each section has a quote and a 5- 6 paragraph reflection followed by points to ponder. Some of these readings land better than others, and while this book was written well before the pandemic I am finding that some apply very well to this situation. This past week produced two golden readings.
April 21: “Another name for God is surprise.” ---Brother David Steindel-Rast
The author speaks to the idea that we do not always embrace the obstacles in our lives as a way to grow as humans or in our understanding of God and the great mystery of life. He gives several examples of how tragedy often gives birth to some new and wonderful thing. He calls this God’s surprise and finishes with “For God is seldom in our plans, but always in the unexpected.”
Of course, this pandemic was not expected and it is challenging for many and if any one of us could take away the suffering and dying we would but that may not be our work. Our work may be to see God in the mystery of it and to “develop strength in our spirit” as we dive deeper into the human experience.
And April 22: “If you can’t see what you are looking for, see what is there.” Mark Nepo
In this passage the author reflects on his experience with cancer treatment. He is in the midst of the struggle and asks himself, “Where is God?” and from somewhere even he cannot identify it comes to him, “Here... right now.” He goes on to say that the presence of God is not eliminated during difficult times; he is always there. Abundance is always there. In all situations, we have everything we need if we just lean into His presence.
Yes, these truths are grounding and his book has steadied me in this uncertain time, but that is not all.
Doing my job as Camp Co-Director has also been quite satisfying, reassuring and grounding. Even with the uncertainty in camp life right now, knowing that the camp family is out there reading about, thinking about, engaging with, cheering us on, and praying for camp is life giving. I am hopeful that people like what we are posting and stay tuned for whatever happens next.
The goal is to open, to enjoy summer camp, to sing at the top of my lungs while waiting in line for my lunch, and to welcome the camp family back to this place of faith, love and community. In the meantime, faith is a great place to stand with both feet planted in the present, trusting God to hold us steady as the “what will happen next” unfolds.
These last few weeks have certainly been trying times for many of us. This is unlike any challenge presented to our nation or our world for generations. We are stuck in our homes, unable to leave to go about our normal lives and routines, with only a walk around the neighborhood for any kind of consolation. Even the grocery store has become a place for caution.
I know for my family and I these weeks have been a time of stress, uncertainty, sickness, and fear. Right around the time Eric Holcomb, Indiana’s Governor, announced the stay at home order, our daughter began showing symptoms of a respiratory virus. Naturally, we assumed the worst. She was tested for a panel of known viruses, all of which came back negative. This meant that she had an unknown viral illness. Again, we assumed the worst for her and ourselves. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year and asthma when I was 13, both of which put me at a higher risk of complications of COVID 19. I was plagued with so many dark thoughts, the worst of which, if something did happen to me, my daughter would not even remember me.
My daughter had a lot of rough nights when she was sick, so we were constantly in her room rocking her back to sleep. I remember one of these nights I was very upset so I spent some time in prayer and a deep peace came over me and I cannot help but reflect on that now during this most special week.
Pope Francis recently made a statement about Holy Week that feels very applicable during these strange times:
“Holy Week is a privileged time when we are called to draw near to Jesus: friendship with him is shown in times of difficulty.”
I would definitely say these times can be described as difficult, but as I sat with my daughter in my arms deep in a conversation with God, I was reminded of how blessed my life has been up to that point. I have had the opportunity to do, see, and experience so many amazing things in my short 33 years. I have gotten everything I really have ever wanted out of life, namely to do something I love, have some great adventures, get married and raise a family.
The most amazing part, however, is that I have been so blessed to have found a faith that defines who I am as a person. Everything I have been, am, and will become in this life has been gifted to me by God. This brought me to the realization that, no matter what happens, I can be abundantly and endlessly thankful for my life.
Although we are enduring difficult and uncertain times in our world, we are entering one of the most celebrated weeks in the Catholic Church – we are in the final days before we mourn the death and celebrate the rise of Christ. These most holy of days are a time for us to remember what an incredible blessing our lives are – how we should love and appreciate what we have, what we have been given, and those we love and love us. The Lord has promised good to us and will make good on his promise – this we can be especially reminded of in this season in the church and the season we find ourselves in now, spring.
As Martin Luther one said:
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”
It is no coincidence that Easter falls during the season of spring. Just as new life is appearing in the natural world around us, this time in our faith is bringing new life into our spirits. This is, and should be, a great time of celebration for the abundance of life around us.
We all have so much to be thankful for. These times can and will be what we make of them. If we choose to sit indoors, in the dark, and focus on the negative aspects of our present circumstances, we can. But living in that joyless, fearful state is our own choosing. If, however, we choose to let these next weeks be our renewal, we may find that, even though we are facing a crisis unlike most of us have seen in our lifetime, we can come out the other side of this stronger, happier, and holier. I have made my choice. What do you choose?
Camp is such an unique experience! Our staff take turns sharing their perspectives of the experience that is CYO Camp Rancho Framasa!
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