Yesterday, I was watching Daniel Tiger with Toby. At the end of the show, they showed a scene of Pittsburgh at night, with thousands of cars out, PNC Park packed with people, and fireworks exploding over the city. I burst into tears. I couldn’t breathe for wanting to see my city like that again, as soon as possible.
But then, after letting myself cry as much as I needed to, I bundled Toby up and went for a walk. I felt better for crying and better for walking. I needed to do both — mourn and move, grieve and live, weep for what’s not and enjoy what is. We all need that.
It’s okay to be sad right now. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You’re not a bad Catholic or a bad Christian for feeling those emotions and 100 more. We all just woke up to discover we’re living in a dystopian novel. It is … disorienting. So don’t feel guilty if you find yourself anxious, scared or randomly sobbing over a children’s television show. This is normal, healthy, human behavior, and God understands. If the Psalmist could lay on his bed all night weeping, so can you.
But, also like the Psalmist, when the morning comes, dry your eyes. Shower. Put on your favorite spring outfit even though you’re not going anywhere. Get your baby out of his pajamas and dress him up cute, too. Then, once everyone is dressed, do something you love. Find time between work and school and disinfecting doorknobs to go for a walk or have a drink on your porch or dance around the kitchen with your spouse. Play a game. Ride bikes. Call, don’t text, that friend you haven’t talked to for months. Instead of cooking, order dinner out from your favorite local restaurant. Then, tip that delivery driver big time.
And through it all, pray. Ask God for mercy. Ask God for strength. Call upon the angels and saints for their prayers. Here, we’re praying the Litany of St. Raphael three times daily. It’s helping.
We don’t know what further crazy tomorrow will bring. But we know God will be there, understanding our sorrow and offering us blessings in the midst of it all. In an uncertain world, there is certainty in that. Cling to that certainty. Cling to him. And don’t just shelter in place. Live in place.
Savoring Every Blessing in This Precious Passing Present
He has no idea what’s going on around him. All he knows is the sun is shining, the grass is soft, and Mama is letting him explore the yard to his heart’s content. He is gloriously happy. And, watching him, so am I.
I grew up in tornado country, in Illinois, right on the Mississippi. Most of the worst storms lost their strength as they crossed the river, but the threat of them, just on the other side of the water, was always there. Some days, it seemed certain even the mighty Mississippi couldn’t stop one. On those days, the sky went yellow and the whole world got quiet, waiting for the roar. Would it come? Or would it pass over us one more blessed time?
That’s what the world feels like now. Quiet. Waiting. Not knowing. Life hasn’t changed. Just paused. But in a blink of an eye, the storm could come and upend everything.
I don’t want the storm to come. I have a husband with a pulmonary auto-immune disease. Nothing to worry about normally, but when medical resources are scarce, it might make the difference between life and death.
There’s also a hoped-for baby out there. What happens if we’re chosen and she comes soon? How will we travel? How will we stay safe on the road or in a hospital overwhelmed by the sick? What if one of us falls ill and can’t travel there or back?
These thoughts have danced in my mind for weeks. But, beyond my unusually full pantry and suddenly cleared calendar, I’m trying to quiet them. Not because the looming storm isn’t terrifying. It is.
But it’s not here yet. And before it comes, a sudden fall down a flight of stairs could equally upend my world. Just like always. For in this life, storms are never far away. We all live in the quiet that comes before, only we rarely know it.
This time, collectively, we do.
Today, though, here, the sun is shining and my baby is laughing and the only graces God is giving are the graces for this day. So, I’m thanking him for the sun, the baby, the yard, and the man who sits here with me, savoring every blessing in this precious passing present. For tomorrow, virus or no virus, they may be gone. And I don’t want to miss what is, worrying about what isn’t. Not today. Not ever.
Emily Stimpson Chapman, a wife, adoptive mother and author, writes from Pittsburgh.
Reprinted with permission from her personal Instagram account.