I went to the grocery store Friday morning to buy my usual week’s worth of groceries for our family of seven, shocked and surprised to find the parking lot packed and only a handful of grocery carts available. Wow, I thought to myself, people are really panicking. I could not believe how empty the shelves were and the number of crates in the aisles, because of the inability to keep up with the amount of merchandise being sold at such a rapid rate. Almost every cart was filled with toilet paper and bottled water. The sight was something I have never seen. I could almost sense the tension and uneasiness as I went about buying my normal groceries.
Sometimes mom life leaves me in a tunnel from the happenings of the rest of the world, so I hadn’t been following COVID-19 that closely in the weeks past. Perhaps a headline or two and maybe I have been negligent in doing so. After being notified that my children’s school would be closed for 3 weeks starting Monday and the awakening from my grocery shopping experience I started reading more about the pandemic and have found myself glancing at the headlines several times throughout the day.
By nature I am one to panic and get anxious easily, but I hadn’t felt panic up to this point. Truth be told, I was more anxious about five kids all stuck in our small house for the next three weeks and me somehow still remaining joyful and sane at the end of it all. Letting reality sink in a bit I began to wonder: should I be worrying more; should I have more concern; should I take more action; am I doing enough for my family? Should we leave our house; is it okay to go to Mass; should I avoid all public contact? Do I have an emergency supply; how much or how little do I need? When will this all end?
With no medicine to cure COVID-19 I still did an inventory of our over-the-counter medicines, making sure I have medications for every age group, cough medicine, saline spray, and cough drops. Not to mention stocking up on vitamins C and D and elderberry, hoping to boost our immune systems while we wait this out. In an effort to be proactive while not hoarding, I decided to set aside a box of non-perishable food items including juice and drinks with electrolytes that could last us a couple of weeks, in case we need to completely self-quarantine.
Running behind getting to Mass yesterday, I couldn’t believe how empty the parking lot was. I had to do a double-take at the time to make sure our clocks weren’t off. Our bishop gave a dispensation for the next few weeks lifting the requirement to attend Sunday Mass, but I wasn’t expecting so many empty pews. Even my two year old asked while sitting in the pew, “where is everyone?”
Again it left me wondering if I should be panicking more. Am I worried enough for my children? They say only the elderly or those with preexisting conditions will be the ones to fall extremely ill. Still I can’t help but worry for my 5-month-old’s still-developing body or my 4-year-old who was a preemie and has been more susceptible to falling ill to RSV and pneumonia. Even more so it is my Christian duty to have concern for those who are more susceptible to the virus. Am I praying enough and are there ways I could somehow assist others in need during these times?
My mind races to worst case scenario, would we really get to that point. How long is all of this going to last? Will we ever be able to go back to normal? How is this going to affect my family, my community, the world over? Will I even survive sanity the next three weeks, which will be cabin fever times 10. My mind and heart left wrestling over so many questions. The unknown, the uncertainty of the very real near future. Am I thinking about it too little or too much? Should it be consuming my thoughts more than it is or am I letting it too much? How much of life is put on hold, while still continue living. And how does that all look.
We boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because he love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2b-5)
As I sat in the pew, these words from the Second Reading at Mass on Sunday seemed like a clear answer to the anxiety and questions I am grappling with. Hope. Hope that does not disappoint. Hope that comes from our affliction and endurance. Hope that is not fading or fleeting with the times, but set firm in our hearts. Unshakable, because it has been promised to us. No matter what may befall us, we are promised hope.
Even further I could not ignore the Holy Spirit speaking to this moment in history through the words of the Gospel, Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman, as grocery stores can’t keep up with the demand of bottled water, every shopping cart filled with it and signs of rationing and limiting how much water you can buy.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:13-15)
During trials, sufferings and crosses, amidst defining moments in history, Christ is our eternal water. The water that will forever quench our thirst. When our foundation is shaken and everything is changing faster than we can comprehend, Christ will be our firm hold. He will sustain us.
Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water,that I may never thirst again. (cf. John 4:42, 15)
I still don’t have the answers to how much, how little, to be anxious or to remain calm. The when, who, and where of how COVID-19 will play out. During this Lenten season this moment is our dessert experience. Being called out away from the normal function of society; called to slow down, reflect, reexamine our state in life and to pray. To offer each moment to him, every inconvenience, discomfort, fear, and struggle. To walk through this time of trial with our eyes fixed on Christ, because he alone is our hope and our constant.
UPDATE: Listen to Cassie’s interview on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air show, beginning at around minute 14.
Copyright 2020 Cassie Everts