Beholden

I have noticed something else that is spreading as fast as this virus ~ extraordinary acts of love.

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By Cheryl Oreglia

The rain has been incessant this week, adding to the general gloom of quarantine, as if the weather were mimicking our mood. I’m slowly forgetting what it was like to get up in the morning, groom myself, and head out to work? It seems like another lifetime. I wanted to be efficacious during this furlough from life but instead, I’m muddled, anxious, spacey (is that even a word).

I’m finding it difficult to remember if I brushed my teeth or not?

I assume I’m not alone in my apathy?

A close friend asked me to reflect on the deeper meaning of this pandemic, to consider if our current predicament could be the result of a radical “social distancing” from God, and if we’re living the reality we ourselves procured?

I see your hand going to the delete button. Don’t do it!

I thought this might inspire us to get out of our pajamas, wash our hair, fire up our brains? I’m kidding, let’s virtually fill our mugs, pull on those fuzzy slippers, curl up on the couch together, because groomed or not, I think this is worthy of our discernment.

For this to happen, I’ll need more than one point of view, don’t make me beg for comments.

We have to consider if our iPhone addiction, the time we spend on computers, and on our social media accounts have been a source of “social distancing” long before this was required? I don’t know about you but my hand is permanently curved to the shape of my phone, my head often bowed as if in prayer, but all I’m doing is wrinkling my neck.

What am I in search of?

I have to believe all the time we spend on our devices is giving us a false sense of connection?

I understand our definition of God will differ but what if we agreed that love was the elucidate idea here? What if God is manifested through acts of love, but if we’re all so busy worshiping our devices, we are in reality isolating ourselves from the very thing we most desire.

To love, to be loved, to belong.

Upon reflection one idea that surfaced quickly was just how connected we all are as human beings, we are truly one body, this has become inordinately apparent, or this virus wouldn’t have infected every corner of the damn world.

But I noticed something else that was spreading as fast as this virus ~ extraordinary acts of love.

I hear neighbors shouting to one another as they walk the eerily empty streets, “good morning, how’s the family, do you need anything?” It’s heartwarming. As Elizabeth Gilbert notes resilience is our shared genetic inheritance.

It’s interesting don’t you think that our Lenten journey (representing the 40 days Jesus spent isolated in the desert, beginning on Ash Wednesday, ending Easer morning), has been a real “sacrifice” for all of us this year. We’ve had to desert our lives if you will, sacrifice our livelihoods, go without toilet paper, and most significantly each other. If ever our faith has been challenged, or strengthen, it has to be during this historic lenten journey of 2020.

Let’s take a closer look at these “extraordinary acts of love,” I’m talking about the people who “persistently and generously” assist others especially during this difficult time.

Seth Godin, a fellow blogger, author, community leader says, “it’s worth taking a second to think about people who are doing more than expected, more than they have to do, more than we can imagine,” under arduous conditions.

I’ve been handed the baton and I’m running with it.

I’ll start with my deep appreciation for all the healthcare workers out there on the front lines, risking their health to bravely attend to those who are sick, and most vulnerable. You are our heroes, I am ever so grateful for your generous, and brave service.

I type, you heal, see the difference?

There are the courageous souls who leave the safety of their homes every day because their work is essential. Here’s a shout out to our police, fire, and emergency crews. To those of you keeping the markets, gas stations, restaurants, and pharmacies open — thank you for showing up!

I want to thank my devoted colleagues who rushed to convert lessons into challenging flex learning on-line and found the time to connect individually with students who are reeling from this unprecedented shift in circumstance. To the faculty and staff of Notre Dame, I thank you, to the teachers and administrators across the globe, we are deeply indebted to you.

Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.

Fred Rogers

Let us offer a hearty “here, here” to the tireless parents who woke up to a house full of uprooted kids, struggling to work remotely, or worse no work, taking on the arduous task of homeschooling, establishing new routines, and still caring for the needs of their extended families. They are employing both creativity and resilience to deal with more than we can possibly imagine. Hang in there, be good to yourselves, you’re managing much better than you think. Christopher Reeve says a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

We have to offer a big thank you to Zoom for handling an unbelievable increase in traffic without a hiccup in service. They are keeping us connected with students, friends, family, not to mention the virtual cocktail hours allowing us to stay home, sane, and social. Cheers!

I’m grateful for all the people who are delivering mail, food, and packages to an immobilized community, maintaining the essentials so we can stay informed, fed, and supplied. Bravo.

How about a shout out to the “elderly” community (yes, I qualify for early bird shopping, let’s move on), who bear a heavier burden, a greater risk, many not only sheltering in place, but many are doing it alone, with the pungent breath of depression breathing down their wrinkled necks, making isolation all the more isolating, and dismal. Stay the course, as you’ve seen before, this too shall pass.

Saving the best for last, a hearty thank you to everyone who is sheltering in place, maintaining a proper social distance, excessively washing hands, extending their kindness, and love in so many ways. I see you setting up beach chairs in the driveway, checking on neighbors, dancing in the street (six feet apart of course), singing from your balconies, drive-by happy birthday wishes, sharing much needed supplies, meaningful conversations, stretching your patience, and wallets, sweet notes from children on the sidewalk, walking your dogs, smiling, engaging, extending good-will, and empathy to complete strangers, who maybe have become friends. You know who you are and I love you.

I’d be remiss if I did not extend my deepest gratitude to those of you who read my work, who enjoy wrestling with ideas that matter, we’ve been challenged here, and I want to thank you for leading, encouraging, and inspiring the best in each other.

I think we are greeting the unexpected with enormous love and faith, we are not failing, we’re kicking ass. My beloved friend Phyllis warns, “if we don’t have a true change of heart, a metanoia, the next crisis could be much worse.” I don’t think there is a question now about whether or not we will face another mega virus, we will, but has this experience prepared us to operate differently in the future?

Let’s not treat Corona like a fad diet, allowing our emotional weight to yo-yo, instead let’s break the frustrating cycle, make “love” our new norm. As Mike Alsford claims, “to be heroic may mean nothing more than this, to stand in the face of the status quo, in the face of an easy collapse into the madness of an increasingly chaotic world, and represent another way.”

I think grace comes to us when we realize the futility and temporary nature of all things, and although we resist this knowledge, we have to stop turning from one shiny new thing to the next, as if restlessness were our goal. The blessing comes when we discover how delusional it is to spend our days in search of something that never satisfies?

If we’re looking for a way in, and we thought it was embedded in our social media accounts, or an app on our phone, we were wrong. We’re not connecting, we’re confusing likes for belonging, distancing ourselves from the real source of love.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease, to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take”

John O’Donohue.

This is not God’s wrath or revenge, this is God doing what God has always done, she enters into our suffering, she takes horrible situations, people, circumstances and uses them for God’s own purposes, for the good of humanity. If COVID-19 is the vehicle currently in God’s employ, I say bravo, we got this. God is like a wave, she’ll keep coming, until our resistance to her charms has completely eroded.

What are we in search of?

I don’t have the answer, I can’t tie this up with a pretty bow, my friend Sue says, “end it like a woman, we don’t need to solve everything, we just want to engage.”

This story was originally published on cheryloreglia.com and republished on The Good Men Project.

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