Date: July 27, 2021
By: Lindsay F.
As mask mandates are lifted and physical distancing becomes a thing of the past, many
are anxious and excited to return to the way things were pre-pandemic, a return to
“normal.” Yet, in multiple addresses to his general audience, Pope Francis has
frequently reminded us that the world will never be the same again. He argues that we
should use this opportunity to become better than we once were, taking the lessons and
reflections we have learned over the last year and a half to become the best version of
ourselves in order to build a better world. This thought has really resonated with me –
I’ve prayed, reflected, and prayed some more. As I consider the year and a half of living
in the midst of a global pandemic I can’t help but see the little divine nudges that I likely
would have missed while living my previous state of “normal.”
Slow Down – Be still. – Psalm 46:10
If you had met me pre-pandemic, many would say I was a master juggler – my Mom
might even say I had 10 balls in the air at any given time. I thrived, so I thought, on
being busy. I felt that if I was busy it meant that I was needed and important. I worried what
others thought about me, I stressed over whether or not I was doing enough to be
worthy of the job I was in. I juggled multiple dinners a week with friends to ensure each
of them felt loved and cared for. I was drowning. My faith was suffering because I was
“too busy” – I wasn’t making the time for God that my heart needed to be spiritually full.
It’s impossible to hear His voice when your life is filled with so much noise. A forced
shut down not only mandated that I pause and realize how little time I had made for
Him, but it also prompted me to consider His will for me in my life. For many, myself
included, our “normal” had been understood or assumed to be a guarantee – and
slowly, as the weeks passed, we came to learn that nothing was certain. That in
considering one’s sense of security, “normal” was an illusion; the only thing that we can
be certain of is His love for us, a love so strong that He would never abandon us, even
during our darkest days. When the source of our strength is God alone, therein lies our
security and our ultimate hope.
Watch for His Signs – Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am
your God – Isaiah 41:10
August 5th, 2020 was almost a typical summer’s day aside from the fact that the world
continued to navigate a global pandemic with no vaccine in sight. My boyfriend and I
had had an early start to the day as we had planned to spend the morning at Moraine
Lake in Banff National Park to catch the sunrise and paddleboard. He had been
acting strange, but I figured it was due to a 2 AM alarm clock and a lack of sleep. What I
would learn later that morning is that his nerves were slowly eating away at him as he
prepared to get down on one knee to ask me to be his wife (spoiler – I said yes)!
A few weeks later, I went to note down in my agenda the day that we had become
engaged so that I’d have it marked down for my memory. My Blessed is She planner
highlights the feast days on each day and it had noted that August 5th was the Feast
Day of Our Lady of the Snows. To the average person, it might not have necessarily
meant anything more than a celebration of Our Lady, but it stood out to me. Our Lady of
the Snows was the name of the school where I began my teaching career, a position
that had taken me across the country and away from my family. After years of being
unable to find a job as a teacher in my hometown, this life change would lead me on a
path I would have never planned nor seen for myself. Looking back on that time in my
life, I can see God’s hand in it all; Divine intervention beyond a shadow of doubt. It was
where I first began to truly trust in God’s will for my life and to follow His lead.
Aside from being the namesake of the school, 3 years prior I had booked a one-way
ticket to Italy after enduring a difficult breakup. Feeling lost and uncertain, I had this
intense desire to run away, my heart longing to go somewhere where my heart could
rest and I could feel at home. It only made sense that I would run home to St. Peter’s
Basilica in Vatican City where I would spend my days on my knees praying and
attending Mass in languages I couldn’t understand. On August 5th 2017, I would
conclude my time in Rome at Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore, a church built
on the grounds where an apparition of Mary took place, a miracle that would offer her
the title Our Lady of the Snows. I left Rome that day rested, renewed….refreshed.
My fiancée, a non-Catholic, proposing to me on this day was undeniably a sign from
Our Lady in the midst of a pandemic reminding me to trust, to keep the faith, and
maintain hope. Moreover, it redirected my attention to the Sacrament of Marriage –
while a wedding is a beautiful wonder to behold, the union of man and wife before God
far outweighs the glitter and glam. As we prepare to marry on December 18th of this
year, I trust with my whole heart that the day will be exactly as God intended it to be.
Beauty in the Sacraments – For God so loved the world that He gave His only
Son.- John 3:16
For many of us the saying, “you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone” never
rang more true than when we could no longer attend Mass to receive the Sacrament of
the Eucharist, pray before the Blessed Sacrament, or receive the Sacrament of
Reconciliation. While parishes around the world were resilient in navigating online
streaming, the absence of community, the absence of being present with the Real
Presence, and the inability to physically receive Him was felt deeply. It forced us to
come to know Him on a deeper level, to find new and unique ways to pray and worship,
to surrender ourselves fully and totally to Him – fully realizing what it means to enter into
spiritual communion, a reality that left us yearning for Him. The first time I returned to
the Church, albeit with reduced capacity, I was overcome with this indescribable sense
of joy. That feeling of knowing you are home, wanting to fall at the foot of the altar like
the Prodigal Son in Remembrant’s painting while resting your head in the lap of the
Father. In a post-pandemic world, I hope to carry that yearning with me always. To
remember how much I desperately needed and hungered for the Eucharist.
Are there things that I hope to maintain from a pre-pandemic world? Absolutely. I cannot
wait to travel again to witness the beauty of His creation in other parts of the world, to
accompany an “I love you” with a warm hug, to see and return the smile behind the
masks, to shake hands with a stranger, to break bread with friends outside of my
household, or to sing with a full heart. But I’ll do all that and more differently – I’ll do it
with a grateful heart, giving thanks to God for each and every moment, remembering to
keep Him at the center of it all. Moments in life are fleeting, but His love endures
What are some of the Divine nudges that God has revealed to you in the pandemic?
How will you live your life differently? Will you fully surrender yourself to His will?
May God continue to watch over us all and keep us safe and well.