If there was ever a time for the world to hit the reset button in our lives, Lent seems to be the most appropriate time. And this year, in the midst of the most sacred time of the year, we’ve truly entered the desert with Jesus.
While the world has come to a full stop and the anxiety and the fear of the unknown of this pandemic has reached many of us, it also has allowed for a moment of silence to pause, to ponder and to reflect on the many things we take for granted. In this time, I have felt this sense of gratitude.
A year ago, I had been struggling to regain a sense of peace. I was running from one thing to the other, and to say I was overextended was an understatement. Now a full year later, I am realizing that this time quarantined from friends and extended family has given me a moment to recognize how much we take for granted in this life.
During any “normal” week, we spend five if not six days a week working, running errands, attending meetings, going to after-school activities for kids and a whole lot of busyness. We tell ourselves we’ll make time for quiet and peace and to get closer to God, yet another day and week goes by, and we haven’t made enough time for him.
To add to that, we also get caught up in our lives and forget the value and importance of human connection. We often take for granted the people who are essential to keeping our communities running. In a lot of ways, it can be a thankless job when someone is stocking shelves, ringing up your items or bagging your groceries. But when a crisis happens, we realize no job is less important or too small.
In the end, we all need each other. We watch day after day as healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement, postal workers, sanitary workers and a host of many individuals still get up every morning to do their job and, in many cases, risk their health to take care of us and keep everything running. We see that many of these healthcare workers are sacrificing time with their families and keeping their distance as they do their job. We forget just how many people keep our communities and world going.
As people of faith, we can also forget the importance of our time in church, how much of a privilege it is to go to Mass or see our priests. I have always considered Mass a sacred moment with God, but being unable to enter a church in nearly a month has led to a sense of emptiness. During this crisis, I’m grateful to have a congregation where the Masses are all streamed online, and for my community that has pulled together and made sure we stay connected throughout Lent and as we transition into Easter. This tough journey cannot be done alone. Even in isolation, we can have a sense of solidarity and compassion as we forge ahead.
As we dive into Holy Week and approach Easter in an unusual situation, let’s not forget to find these moments of gratitude. To help carry another person’s cross even as you bear the weight of your own, to show mercy and love now more than ever. We can all do our part to show gratitude to those essential workers by thanking them each time you see them, to check in with your loved ones and friends and truly engage with them, to send a note or call your priest to let him know how very much you appreciate him and the work he continues to do. Most of all, let’s not forget to thank God and extend that gratitude and love to him. By carrying out those works of mercy and love, we honor him. The Lord is asking us to pause and ponder and to not forget why we’re in the desert after all he sacrificed for us. We can do it, too, and we will get through it together.
Sheryl Tirol handles PR for the U.S. men’s healthy charity Movember. As a native of Chicago, she is a lifelong Cubs fan and lover of deep dish pizza.