So now I am giving you a New Commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you. You should love one another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (Jn 13: 34-35)
I have a little group chat going pretty much all the time with a few gals I affectionately call my “mom squad”. This is not new to my everyday rhythm, nor is it something we’ve added since all the COVID-19 insanity disrupted, well, life. The conversations continue to be about what is happening in our day to day worlds. We cheer each other on from afar, celebrate life’s tiniest victories, comfort one another when one (or more) of us has a case of the blues, and always we pray for each other. These girls are some of my most treasured peeps. I mean, who else can I text a photo of my newly painted toenails to and they will understand the sliver of heaven I am sharing? If you have friends like these too, let me tell you folks, your days and mine have all been touched by the sparkly stuff which can only come from the Lord!!
Yesterday, one of these amazing women shared with our group a photo of the dry erase “family goals” board in her hallway. She’s the most Type-A person I know, and one of the most affirming, articulate friends I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure she was trying to encourage some greatness in us. Each of her family members had 3-4 daily goals on that board. It was impressive, and full of things they wanted to accomplish during the quarantine. It would be downright inspiring to a better, holier woman than myself. Mostly, it made me laugh aloud at myself and think of my most recent conversation with Tom. He was mocking my coronavirus routine. You see, I was getting up, showering, then realizing each day there was literally nothing normal on my calendar so I’d take a long walk. Right after my shower. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was MY QUARANTINE and if I wanted to get sweaty in full makeup, then that’s my prerogative. However, he did have a point? So, in my own quirky, weird way, I felt like I had WON THE DAY because I entered it smelly on the day I got that “goals” board from Lisa. Her people have lists of accomplishments, and I am celebrating the fact that I am embracing my own BO. To each her own? HAHAHA!!!
My point is, there is no right or wrong way to do this time of “isolation” and we all just need to be gentle with ourselves and each other. Some people need goals, others need Facetime, and still others need to get in a long daily walk or extra prayer time. I’m not going to lie when I say some of us just need the damn Wifi to work properly so the family doesn’t implode while they try to upload assignments or work projects. As for me, what I probably need most is to practice CHILLING OUT. So, perhaps my skipped morning shower is actually a holy practical exercise in patience?
Here’s what I’ve noticed that I want to share. Like a lot of you, I’m online more now than I ever have been before…and that place really is a rabbit hole sometimes. For the first time ever though, I really am seeing the blessings of technology in the way that it can aid relationships when we are forced to be apart. However, people are difficult and opinionated, and that includes me. Humans who are a little rattled can be challenging to handle, so sometimes we are tempted to put up barriers, or even demonize the guy with a differing opinion, which is sort of natural. Some folks do it loudly with a grumpy tweet aimed at someone they see as a villain, and others of us do it in the quiet of our hearts. The thing is, either way…that is NOT how Jesus taught us to love.
Today is Holy Thursday, and we remember our Lord instituting the Eucharist on this day, by sharing a meal with a man that He knew would betray Him.
I’m reading a sunny book right now that was written by a positivity hero of mine, Bob Goff. As I look around online to connect with folks in a way that is currently safe and available to me, I keep asking myself the question Bob asks in this book. “Am I really so insecure that I surround myself only with people who agree with me? When people are flat wrong, why do I appoint myself the sheriff to straighten them out? Burning down others’ opinions doesn’t make us right. It makes us arsonists.”
We are all made in the image of God. He loves you and me and the goofball at Meijer who has ALL the TP in his cart just the same. The same thing goes for the guy in the free food line who drove up in a Tesla. Let’s pick on the TP guy a second and call him “George”. We don’t know the circumstances which brought Tesla guy to the free food line, nor do we understand the motives of George hoarding the TP. What we do know for sure is that even if in the unlikely circumstance that both gentlemen are filled with ill will, the Lord loves Tesla guy and George more than I love my three sons. Let me tell you, that’s just a freaking lot of love, and also a tad disconcerting, am I right? I know this because, well, God is God and I am not. He loves His children more than I love mine because HE IS LOVE. That means He loves you, and me….and George and Tesla guy more than you and I love any soul on this earth. I don’t know about you, but my son called me “pouncy” this week (for good reason) so that unearned, unconditional love feels pretty nice about now, huh?
This day more than any other seems an appropriate time to just remind myself Jesus taught us to love our enemies. That means the backbiters, slanderers, opponents, rivals, antagonists, and just the people who confuse the heck out of us on Twitter.
Think about Jesus with Judas at that first eucharistic meal before He died. It’s so fitting to me that our Lord instituted this most important sacrament the night before He was crucified. We pay special attention to everything He said and all that He did (with even more sharp focus today) perhaps because that’s exactly what we humans do with any good friend who is near death. Jesus wanted us to have a profound and intense relationship with the Eucharist, because He was giving us Himself as spiritual food, necessary for the life of our souls.
Do me a favor for a hot second and focus on the joyless feeling you have interiorly when you’ve spent yourself (perhaps only in the quiet of your heart) criticizing yourself or others because you or they have failed or fallen short. Can we just NOT? I’m taking a pause on that behavior for Holy Thursday, reflecting on the beautifully imperfect life I’ve been gifted, and with deep gratitude asking the Lord for the grace to love others and myself the way He does.
JOIN ME in a little prayer of gratitude for all our priests? Today is also the day we celebrate the institution of the priesthood, and without these good men, the Eucharistic feast we all miss so terribly is simply not possible. I think this familiar prayer feels perfect today, at this unique time in history for them all.
HAIL HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.