As the Easter season begins, I think we can all relate to the fact that this particular Lent of 2020 was not at all what we were expecting. I kept up with the devotionals that I chose for most of the season, but as the weeks blurred into one another, trying to work from home while also helping the kids with their schoolwork, and generally worrying about the state of the world, I recognized that my heart simply was not absorbing the messages anymore; my brain and emotions were just completely overloaded each evening. I gave myself permission to be gentle on myself and my own expectations, because we were living through an emotionally difficult situation that none of us were prepared for. I tried to seek peace without putting additional stress on myself.
What I did find myself doing for spiritual pick-me-ups was a lot of quick intercessory prayer, asking Our Lady to intercede for my kids as they worked on their assignments, or as I perused the news. Thinking of the saints has also helped quite a bit, and I often ask for the intercession of St. Dymphna to help me to manage my anxiety. St. Dymphna has a chaplet I have written about previously, and that I find quite comforting to pray in times of distress. So, while deep spiritual reading and meditation time is down in my current world, strengthening prayer time is still very much present.
The other thing that has sustained me during this time is the online chat threads that I have with friends. Scrolling through my Facebook feed can heighten my anxiety, so sometimes I need to avoid that, though I do fear missing posts from friends and family that will make me smile. But when I see a new message come in through our private chat threads, I cannot wait to check that notification and to be uplifted by their words of prayer and support. I do not have to be afraid to spill all of my fears out to them; I do not have to carefully word everything that I write; I can just be honest and know that they will be there to listen and to try to assure me, no matter what.
Even though I cannot see them face-to-face, their presence feels so warm and close to me. It’s almost like I’m taking them with me when I tuck my phone into my pocket to grab a quick walk outside. I know that if I have a sad moment, I can write to them, and even if they cannot write back to me right away, they are carrying me in their hearts and offering up their day for me, just as I am for them. That emotional sense of connection has been life- and spirit-sustaining for me this past month. We suggest ways to keep the faith alive to each other at home in the absence of Mass and the Eucharist, suggest novenas for various worries, and always offer encouraging words. Their support is invaluable to me.
Leaning on our friends right now is one of the best ways to care for our emotional health, I believe, and having virtual means of doing so is such a blessing. I miss their physical presence, but right now, channeling their emotional presence is a crucial way to keep our hearts happy.
Have you been able to cultivate your friendships online this Lent and Easter? Do you have an online prayer thread or other way to secure emotional support during this difficult time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Copyright 2020 Tiffany Walsh