September 11, 2020 by:  Mary-Ellen Burgess

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to an Ultreya. 

During this current time of COVID-19 pandemic and keeping my contacts to a few people in my bubble I initially declined to do the witness talk, but learned it was c/o the WEB – no contact.

Where has Christ been in my life lately? He’s still there. 

I’ve been pushing Him away and pulling Him close at times.

Asking:  Why?  a lot.

Even with COVID isolation, there have been births and deaths.  The cycle of life continues.  A friend died unexpectedly.  It is hard not to have a chance to say goodbye and to share memories about them with others and have a sense of closure to that relationship. 

Then there are new beginnings — and a new person, soul, to welcome into this world such as it is.  The option of cuddling this new little one isn’t possible just now.

I was talking with someone this summer and said I was trying to figure out what I was feeling. 

Was I sliding back into the deep depression I experienced a year ago?  What would the signs be of sliding back into depression? 

  • Social isolation
  • irritability
  • poor diet
  • poor sleep
  • lack of exercise
  • increased alcohol consumption. 

It wasn’t depression.  It was the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. 

OK.  That was good news. 

Now it was up to me to do something about it. Self-care: body, spirit and mind. Body – exercise and healthy diet and new means of connecting via FaceTime and Facebook with friends and family near and far.  I’m retired now and condo living requires walking my small dog 4-5 times a day – which allows for some socially distanced human contact and a chat. 

I’ve met more of my condo neighbours by asking “How are you managing during COVID?” instead of just “Hi” and walking past them.

We found we were looking out for each other and becoming friends. Spirit – I miss the community of the church – the volunteering, events like my PREP students receiving the sacraments and praying together. 

Mass on YouTube is different – somewhat lacking but that’s the new normal for now. 

The lockdown and not attending mass in person and not receiving the sacraments has been hard on me.  Attending mass online and spiritual communion has helped maintain the Sunday schedule whereas the rest of the week becomes “blurday”. 

I’ve been praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy at home too – especially for our front line workers. 

Also doing some bible reading and other religious themed books. Mind – Taming the anxiety and dealing with the stress of this pandemic — mine and other peoples’.

What can I do that will best help me or others in this situation right now? What can I control?  Me.  Only me.

I didn’t hit anyone in the grocery store, but I sure wanted to yell at them.  I didn’t.  Our dear Dr. Bonnie Henry’s words came to mind:

Be calm.  Be Kind.  Be Safe.

We are all figuring out the new normal and the changes are continuous and not definitive. I’ve also challenged myself with my hobby of knitting – more difficult patterns and items and colours. 

Friends across Canada are sharing their projects with me – it’s fun and maintains our sanity. I appreciate nature and the seasons God has given us.  I try to share this bit of joy by being more the glass half full type of person. Be a friend, make a friend, bring a friend to Christ.  Think of Christ as your friend. Father Rob Brennan, SJ said in his homily speaking of Jesus being a friend to us is to know His love. Fr. Brennan said:

Friends offer a piece of themselves to me, and by their doing so I experience what it’s like to be loved by another. I, too, offer various types of friendships to men and women in my life. In being there as a friend, I am helping them experience what it’s like to be loved by another. God offers a relationship that encompasses all of these different types of friendships. In a sense, God is the totality of all of my human friends in one. God sits with me in silence, rejoices with me, laughs with me, celebrates with me, supports me in tough times, and walks with me in my day- to-day life. All of these ways that God is present deepen my understanding of God’s love for me. What can I offer to God, though? I offer my presence to God. I offer my response to the totality of God’s love. I offer my love to God as I laugh, celebrate, cry, and share the depths of my heart with God. I offer my gifts and talents to God. In this mutual giving to each other and receiving from each other, we develop a deep friendship with each other.

Sometimes there is nothing I can do – life tends to throw us some curveballs – so I turn to God – place my cares in his hands.  We must trust that God will do what is best for us.  Let go of our plans and be open to the possibilities.  Jesus I trust in you.  I’m amazed at what options to our problems Jesus provides.

Where is God in my life? 

Everywhere.

Whether I acknowledge Him or not. This week the love of Christ was in the smile of the nervous teenager going back to school.  The prayer line for my brother-in- law’s liver transplant and subsequent complications.  The toddler patting my dog when they were afraid to do so only last week.  A friend’s first grandchild arriving safely.  The blackberries ripening along the ravine trail. A deeper sense of peace comes from knowing Jesus walks beside me.  At times He carries me. Jesus, is my friend.

De Colores – Mary Ellen

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