There are so many voices to be heard right now. Right now, and always really. One that speaks particularly loudly, though, is uncertainty. Whether you call it fear of the unknown or lack of control, we, as humans, can be plagued, paralyzed and poisoned by it. I would say good stewardship requires a level of planning. The potentially paralyzing piece of planning is the expectation the plan will go exactly or somewhat closely according to how we envisioned it. Thus, there is a bit of a false sense of control we can fall into. Though we arrange and adapt our environments to an extent to meet our needs or desires, it is imperative to remember, they are, indeed, outside of our control. This is the very nature of stewardship. Things have been given to us to look after, to use as they ought to be used. We have been given all we have. It is easy to forget our world is wild at its core. The universe was created by an untamable Creator. Do we think, then, that we can tame it? That we have tamed it? If we possibly succeeded in doing so, should we have?
COVID-19 has stirred the beast of uncertainty we often spend so much energy trying to tame or keep enclosed. Now it roars in our ears. It is difficult to hear much of anything else, but we must. Though uncertainty seemingly drowns all else, the whispers of creation remain audible. The world is suffused with the promises that the Creator provides for us. Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Let us see God’s faithfulness and provision when we look at our lives, regardless of the circumstances. Let His Word speak louder than our uncertainties and “let us doubt our doubts, not our beliefs” [Father Jim].
I heard on the radio the other day about a woman diagnosed with cancer. I cannot imagine what the news of a cancer diagnosis would be like personally (I remember it still being somewhat distant and surreal when you were diagnosed, dad), and I dare to say my response would not be as hers was. She decided to list all the positives of having cancer. Small, seemingly foolish or funny things. She started posting them on Facebook and received quite an unexpected response. This woman received feedback people found joy and hope in reading her list. A list of little, moment mercies.
What mercies can be found in a pandemic? In a state of national emergency? I would argue mercies that can be seen, not looked at. Mercies such as those described in the following quote by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade in his book, Abandonment to Divine Providence…
“The present moment is always full of infinite treasure. It contains far more than you can possibly grasp. Faith is the measure of its riches; what you find in the present moment is according to the measure of your faith.
Love also is the measure: the more the heart loves, the more it rejoices in what God provides. The will of God presents itself at each moment like an immense ocean that the desire of your heart cannot empty; yet you will drink from that ocean according to your faith and love.”
O clement, COVID-19, in the wake of your uncertainty and fear and unknown, the moment is still ours. Intentionality is ever inspired. Love remains and an ocean of mercy before us. We will not ignore your voice or belittle your reality but rather let you be as such amongst the greater voices of the present moment. Ancient and enduring and renewing voices of love, hope, faith, and mercy.