An interesting news story: a serious virus in China that has devastated and closed down a very large city, Wuhan. It has now spread to some other Asian countries as people have traveled.
It’s on the news so I am following it. At one point, I access a map that shows the spread via international travel. Interesting. Wait, what? It is in New York, now spreading everywhere. It is everywhere, everywhere, even in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
The advice, indeed mandates, are to close down everything for at least two weeks. The schools close, the businesses, people stay home from work, the churches close! This is nice. Two weeks at home, I can do that. Who wouldn’t want to step off the merry-go-round for two weeks?
Eight months later. . . Over a million, (one million!) people have died. It is still raging. Now along with the beauty of Autumn cases seem to be on the rise. It won’t go away, why won’t it go away!
I am so tired of it. I want to live life normally again. But, I am privileged. I have no worries about shelter or food or medical care.
What about all of the millions with heightened food insecurity, loss of income, the families of over a million people grieving? And you ask me what are the graces? Graces! Are you kidding me! This is a global disaster, everything has changed, millions and millions of lives are turned upside down. More and more people are hungry, more and more people are poor.
We are so deeply vulnerable. Even our physical safety is out of our control. No longer can I say, well that won’t affect me. It is far away, that stuff doesn’t happen here. And staying at home for some people is like a prison sentence. They live alone, anyone close to them cannot visit.
Isolated and vulnerable. Could these things somehow be graces? As Sisters of St. Joseph, we believe everything can be an occasion of grace.
Realizing my own and the entire world’s vulnerability certainly has deepened my awareness of our utter dependence on God. There is nothing we can control except our own attitudes and behaviors. And I know that the one thing God wants of us in our vulnerability is to be in solidarity with one another. Take care of one another, love one another.
Sister Sarah baking cookies for the incarcerated with young adults.
My gratitude and love of community has deepened. Because I have pledged to live my life among this community of women, even now I don’t find myself alone. In fact, I am surrounded by support and love and care. I have often said that life in community, Religious Life, makes me a better person (certainly a happier person) than I would otherwise be.
Community calls me outside of myself. And now, in a time of pandemic, community holds me, comforts me and give me the courage to keep moving forward in faith.
I don’t know when this is going to end, or how it is going to end. But I know, the graces of this time involve leaning more deeply into God’s great love and I know that life in community helps me to do that even in the darkest of times.
-Sister Sarah Crotty, CSJ
Read more reflections from our Sisters about the gifts of religious life during a global pandemic.