Everyone I know is tying to make sense of the corona hysteria and see how we can all make the best of it. In the confusion of the situation we are currently facing, how can we avoid fear and panic and, instead, maintain peace and tranquility? I think that we have two choices of how we can react to this unusual and uncertain situation. We can either view it as an inconvenient burden and complain and be upset about it, or we can see it as an opportunity to grow in love of God and charity for one another. I am certain that adopting the second attitude will be the most positive and peace-filled choice. What are some ways we can make the best of the corona situation and even see the good in it and draw out some positives from it?
- Slow down and unplug. If we are constantly immersing ourselves in media reports and messages and continually engaged in the social media frenzy of corona-related jokes and opinions, we are tempted to get caught up in the noise and confusion, which can lead to anger or fear. Instead, I am trying to remember not to overdo the exposure to news and social media, and, instead, to remember to spend time doing things I enjoy and that help my family and I to remain calm and happy. My children are helping me to remember this, as, after school today my oldest daughter noticed some wildflowers growing on the school campus and asked if she and her sister could spend a few minutes picking them before going home. She literally reminded me that we have to stop and smell the flowers in order to not get sucked into feelings of apprehension about what is going on around us. We must continue to live our lives and have peace and confidence that “this too shall pass.”
- Spend quality time with family. With all of the cancellations of school, sporting events, and other public gatherings, the hidden blessing is the extra time we are given to spend with our children. Rather than see these changes as an inconvenience, it would be helpful to look on the bright side and see the additional precious moments we can enjoy with them. I have always believed that many of us are living our lives too fast, running here and there engaged in too many activities and missing out on the simple times of just enjoying our children and time spent at home, playing board or card games, preparing meals together, and just conversing with them. Now is a perfect time, as we will all be a little less busy in the coming days and weeks.
- Take time for prayer. If not so much for ourselves, many people who have contracted or will contract the illness need our prayer support now. Remembering that we, after all, are in the season of Lent, we can see this as an opportunity to carry the Cross with Jesus and to offer up our inconveniences (like toilet paper shortages!) and difficulties as Lenten sacrifices. As of now, our churches are still open and Masses are still being said. We can continue to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, and go to Adoration if possible.
- Thank God for the blessings in life. Right now, if we are healthy, we should give thanks to God for the gift of good health. If we are always remembering that this life is temporary, we will never be surprised when confronted with our mortality in situations like this, and we will be ready for whatever comes our way and won’t succumb to fear and panic. A good question to remember is, “What if you woke up with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Being grateful leads to happiness in any situation and can help us live more joyful and healthy lives.
- Be good stewards of the gifts God has given us and nurture them: health, well-being, family, friends. Since God has been so generous to us in this country, we should take care of our bodies, our homes, and our environment and do our best to preserve them. Like the wise servant in the gospel Parable of the Talents who increased the five talents given to him by his master, we should also be prudent and careful to use our abilities to serve God and build up his Kingdom.
- Help others who may not be as fortunate. Maybe someone you know is sick now, or maybe they will become ill with this virus and will need care or resources. Although many are advocating “social distancing,” we should continue to look out for and reach out to one another, especially in difficult times like this. We are called to live in community, and must pull together, especially now.
St. Teresa’s Bookmark contains wonderfully consoling and fitting words for us today:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.