If I have learned anything in the first six months of 2020, it may be that ‘uncertain’ is its middle name. You know me well enough from writing here that “roll with it” is not my preferred mode of traveling through life. Yet the Lord saw this year before it was even on our radar and knew how it would stretch, grow and tug at each of us in new ways. Some of us (me) still had some lessons in store for our plans for the year and He foresaw how His would affect them long before the tide turned.
For my husband and I, when everything started changing and shutting down, one of the things we were most concerned would be postponed was our daughter Margaret’s First Communion, scheduled for April 26. Early on, as churches began to close, everything seemed temporary. This was a short term challenge, a “ride it out” for a few weeks and we’d all head back to church, just like every other Sunday. Except that as the weeks went on, opened doors seemed quite illusive and closed ones more than temporary. I’m not solely referring to churches here, but nearly everywhere. Even when I did get out of the house, encounters with people were mingled with fear-filled eyes, lost direction and a distance much further than six feet apart. The separation was a wide chasm. Staying home not only felt safer from the unknown, but a safer place to guard our hearts and stay anchored in faith and hope.
We kept on praying and waiting. My “breaking” Sunday came on Divine Mercy Sunday as our family gathered in our living room again, joining one of our diocesan priests for Mass via Facebook. That one was my most achy Sunday during quarantine. At week five, I had no idea I was only in the middle of our time away from church. The longing came again the following week as I looked out our front window during online Mass noticing the exquisite beauty of the day. My heart sank as I realized the date, the day that was supposed to be my daughter’s First Communion day. How glorious it would have been! I imagined her dressed in white and the photos and memories we were not making that day. Still, we kept praying and held on to hope that “some day” would come soon, reminding Margaret that waiting for Jesus in the Eucharist would make the day so much more special.
As we neared the tentative opening of churches and freedom to again pray and worship with our parish family, I realized the urgency had left my heart. It had been replaced with apprehension. There would be no “return to normal” that seemed promising many weeks prior. Again I felt Him asking me to trust, seek Him in this uncontrollable (by me) situation and wait because He had a plan bigger than my own. Soon after, as churches began to re-open their doors and we started looking toward future weeks, we talked with our pastor about what was best for Margaret, along with following the directives of our diocese. Since she was the only First Communicant from our parish, he was generous in offering that we could choose a date that worked for us.
We chose June 14, the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi), and asked if he would be willing to have a private Mass. He agreed to an afternoon Mass for our immediate family. It turned out that it was only our second return to Sunday Mass following quarantine. Margaret’s day, while delayed from the original plan, ended up being just right for all of us. Beautifully meaningful with just some of our family, but special for her encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist.
What have I learned the first six months of 2020, the year that I felt drawn to the word “BUILD” as my theme? Way more than I bargained for! One thing may have been how He found a way to build a stronger faith foundation while the walls around me felt like they were crumbling. Our family found a way to build our domestic church while our physical church was unavailable to us. I have been led in hard ways to build and cultivate relationships, along with a daily life that feels like it has no guarantee in it.
I pray that my heart not be restless, but wait in hope that the second half of 2020 would be less of a roller coaster ride.