As a Catholic speaker, the most popular talk I give is entitled “And Then God Gave Me A Time-out”. The thing about a time-out, at least from my experience, is that it allows you to take a breath, to re-prioritize, to turn your gaze to God. It occurs to me, that worldwide, the coronavirus is giving us a time-out; at least it feels similar to me.
When I had my time-outs from my freak leg injury and then from cancer I quickly learned all that I could NOT do. I could not work, I could not shop, and I could not go out with friends. The list was long and the reasons were always the same, I physically could not handle being out and about like that. I was too injured or too sick for anything but rest. So, I stayed home, sat quietly, read, prayed and listened to God.
Since all those normal “life” experiences were no longer possible, I was forced to reprioritize. With my limitations, should I choose a Dr. appointment or shopping? The answers became obvious. My life went from being “crazy busy” as I used to say, to quiet and silent. In the silence was the gift. In the silence I could experience the beauty of the people and world around me. In the silence I could contemplate my faith in God. In the silence I could see what truly mattered in life. In the silence I became very present to each beautiful moment.
As I think about the impact of the coronavirus, I consider how similar its impact is to the “time-out” I had. As the travel stops, the big events are postponed, and people are asked to stay home we are hearing about all the things we cannot do. We are being forced to re-prioritize. But, perhaps for all of us, this timeout could be about what we all CAN do.
We can collectively, as a society, take a deep breath. We do not have to be “crazy busy” running from event to event each day. We can spend quiet time with those we love. We can eat together as a family. We can be more fully present to each other. We can appreciate the world around us, especially as the spring awakens budding trees and flowers. Perhaps you will notice a daffodil popping its head out of the ground.
It is not lost on me that this time-out from the coronavirus is occurring during Lent, a holy time for us as we focus on Christ’s great sacrifice. As Catholics we offer up sacrifices during Lent as a reminder to ourselves of Christ’s enormous gift of his life for us. As we take this time out, as we step away from the busyness of society, perhaps we can lean into our faith. Perhaps the sacrifices required because of the coronavirus can be seen as invitations to deepen our faith and trust in the Lord.
We can take this gift of slowing down our lives and use it to refocus on God. We can pray. We can listen intently to what God shares with us. We can contemplate the mysteries of our faith. We can read the bible. As one priest shared, instead of singing Happy Birthday when you wash your hands, say the Our Father and Hail Mary, before you know it you will be praying a rosary every day.
Yes, there are many fears associated with what is now seen as a global pandemic. Likewise, in my own personal timeouts there were many fears, would I ever walk again, could I survive the cancer? It is easy to focus on the fears. However, I learned that when I focused on the silence, the beauty of each moment, God was shinning through in all his glory.
During my time-outs I started to tell myself to “Be Radiant”. That was my mantra, my reminder that no matter what was going on to allow God to shine through. No matter the fear, no matter the event of the day, God was with me and would shine forth, if I allowed him. It is in our busyness that things like shopping or basketball games or travel take over and the radiance of God becomes stifled by us. It is in the quiet that God’s radiance so clearly shines in our lives.
When I finish my talk on God giving me a time-out I usually invite people to take a time out for God. We, globally, have an opportunity here to take a time-out with God. We have an opportunity now to take the time to sit with God, to pray, to focus on family and loved ones. We have the opportunity to lose the busyness of life today and embrace stillness with God.
As the fears mount and the world is unsure of what will happen because of the coronavirus, I invite you, no God invites you, to take this time out with Him.