This post is part of Dominican Center's series Stay in the Light ~ Stories of Prayer and Hope During a Pandemic.
I have been having haunting dreams. These dreams include me trying to care for others, but everything always goes wrong. I try to make food, but the pots boil over or dishes melt, then the guests decide to go out to eat. The house is always messy and chaotic, there are too many people and too much noise, and I just can’t seem to gain control. Along with these nightmares, I have been agitated throughout the day. I get irritated and angry by little things. While I may consciously say that I’m okay through this time of safe-at-home distancing, I think my anxiety is manifesting in my subconscious. My soul is trembling with disquiet.
So how do I cope with my worries and concerns? I listen to the disquiet of my soul, and I listen for the whisper of God’s voice in the depths of my heart. I crave silence, just to be, to rest in God. I feed my desires for silence with God in continuing to rise early for prayer. Even though I continue to work from home, I am able to spend more time in conversation and silence with God. I find solace in the psalms and prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially the ancient reflections in the Office of Readings. I encounter Christ in pondering the Scriptures of the daily readings with lectio divina and imaginative reflection.
I find myself spending a longer time in contemplative silence because my spirit thirsts for God’s presence.
With the dawning of spring, slow as it may seem here in Michigan, I draw comfort in sunshine and warming temperatures. I’ve enjoyed walking my dogs in the afternoon after I finish the day’s work. I also take a prayer walk on my own to simply enjoy God’s creation and to count my blessings. I love hearing the bird song throughout the day and seeing the squirrels scamper about my yard (and often coming up on the deck to beg for crackers).
I do find myself thinking about and praying for the most vulnerable in our world.
While the U.S. is worried that we do not have enough ventilators, too many countries do not have the most basic supplies for medical care. While people are hoarding toilet paper, non-perishable food, and other supplies, too many people in our world live every day with the lack of food, water, shelter, and supplies to meet their needs. While some of us are rather enjoying our time at home, I think about the people who suffer from domestic violence and are now captive to their abusers without any reprieve. I am concerned about the many people who suffer from mental illness, especially anxiety and depression.
While I hold all of the vulnerable in my prayers, I count my own blessings. The practice of gratitude keeps me grounded. When I find myself beginning to despair and worry about the future, I raise my heart to God and give thanks for the love of my family and friends, the shelter I have, the food I eat, the ability to continue to reach out to others with technology and social media. Sometimes I have to stop for a moment and ask God to enlighten me as to the things for which I can be thankful, but God never disappoints. God always shows me what is good in my life.
My mantra through this ordeal is HOPE.
I have hope in Christ. Through his suffering and death, Christ shows us the way to resurrection and new life. I have hope that this pandemic will not last forever. I have hope that we will rejoice in being able to physically gather again. I have hope that even if we die from this life, we will be born into new life with Christ.
I came across this sidewalk chalk message on one of my walks through the neighborhood. I return to it often to remind myself that dawn comes from night, light dispels the darkness, healing comes from pain, resurrection and new life follow death, and Love always wins.
I wrote this prayer on April 1:
Lord, in the midst of this pandemic, we have a choice:
light or darkness, life or death, positivity or negativity, love or hate,
to draw nearer to you or go on our own.
Give those who choose light, life, positivity, and love your Spirit of strength
that we may persevere in your love and mercy.
Pour your grace and mercy on those who choose darkness, negativity, hate, and death;
may they experience a glimmer of hope in the love that surrounds them.
Bring us into your peace, O God.
At Dominican Center, we believe we are prayer in action, and that connection, contemplation, and creativity will see us through these unsettling times and help us find and be in light. We invite you to share with the Dominican Center community your prayer in action and to feed our souls with that which feeds yours. Read more about the Stay in the Light series here.
To take part in the Stay in the Light ~ Stories of Prayer and Hope During a Pandemic series, please send your writings and related attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teresa (Teri) Burns is the pastoral associate for Faith Formation at St. Robert of Newminister. Her focus is on coordinating bible studies, prayer groups, and other adult faith formation practices. She holds bachelors degrees in theology and sociology from Aquinas College and a master’s in pastoral theology from St. Mary-of-the-Woods. She is married to Deacon Jeff Burns; they have two daughters and two grandsons.