Sunday, March 22, 2020

With Gratitude for this Beautiful Life

Last week began on a really hard note. Our city's whole area began gradually closing down, little by little. The zoo closed. The science museum closed. The entire library system closed. Then, we received news that all public Masses for the foreseeable future (including Easter) were suspended. On top of all of this, rain poured down, hour after hour. A bad cold raged through my body, and sniffling and exhausted, I slumped on the couch as my children ran circles in the living room, tossing toys this way and that. I was having a difficult time.

I will note that homemade pizza makes a crazy/overwhelming/miserable start to
a week much, much better. We recently purchased a pizza screen,
and I can't believe I waited this long to start making pizza this way!
On Wednesday, the sun pushed aside the rain for a little while, so we managed to escape to a park and explore, but within a couple of hours, the downpours returned. The next morning dawned, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. I was excited to celebrate the great feast, but was disheartened when my body continued to be wracked with coughing. My husband took our oldest to church to pray, while I stayed home. I opened my worn breviary to pray the Liturgy of the Hours-a practice that I sadly have neglected for many weeks now. As the familiar words slipped through  my lips, rain pounded on the ground outside, dragging my spirits low. And then, I prayed:

Every shower and dew, bless the Lord. 
All you winds, bless the Lord. 
Fire and heat, bless the Lord. 
Cold and chill, bless the Lord. 
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
(Daniel 3:64-68)


As I recited these lines that had once been prayed by men in a furnace, and as I listened to the torrential downpour outside, I realized that I had been missing something in my life. I had been forgetting to praise and bless God in these hard days. I can-and should-honestly acknowledge the difficulties that I'm going through, but simultaneously I need to remember to pour out my prayers of thanksgiving to God. I continued to pray Morning Prayer that day with a new attitude and a refreshed spirit.

Afterwards, my toddler and I danced on the porch as we watched the rain, and welcomed my husband and oldest son home so we could have a Solemnity breakfast of donuts, kolaches, and Chick-Fil-A.

It was so nice to see signs of life and beauty outside! 
We were able to prayerfully watch (via livestream) as our pastor celebrated Mass, and the rain even held back for several hours so we could spent a huge amount of time outside.
We found a large worm, and my kids were extremely entertained
as-for several minutes-they poked it and watched it flail around. 
Later, I plucked handfuls of henbit from the front yard as I began braiding "flower crowns" for my children and I. The teenager across the street blasted Paramore as he worked on his car, and my sons ran around the driveway. Greeting a neighbor who was walking a dog, I smiled to myself. This almost feels like a normal springtime evening, I thought to myself.

I have made flower crowns to greet the springtime
each year for a long time, and I always look
forward to it :) 
That glorious day was a huge gift from God, and a reminder that there is more at work than closings and event cancellations. God is at work in all of this, and I can-and should-praise Him, even if the weather is awful, we're stir-crazy, and I'm stuck with a persistent case of the sniffles. This is a beautiful life that God has given me, and even with a pandemic raging, I can still take a moment to recognize the abundant blessings that surround me.

Give thanks to the Lord, who is good,
whose mercy endures forever.
(Daniel 3:89)

Celebrating Laetare Sunday! Baby is around 19 weeks
gestation, and I finally seem to have a defined
"baby bump" instead a huge blob on
the front, for which I am grateful (it makes
finding clothes to wear much simpler).  
(lAso, I feel obligated to share that-to celebrate Laetare Sunday-we had a "family baking party" and made these delicious brownies using peanut butter and a real egg, since I've never used a "flax egg." Only one of our kids happened to like them, so I might just wind up eating the whole pan myself. I was craving a gooey, not-too-sweet, protein-y treat today and these were what I needed!)

5 comments:

  1. I love this!! I hope you’ll start feeling better soon. I’ve felt on the verge of a cold for a few weeks now, and Gracie has the world’s worst cough. I can’t wait until our weather improves so we can enjoy the outside too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You look beautiful! Hope you are feeling better now. Yes, it is a challenging time (especially with little ones in the house! stir-crazy -- oh yes!) but I love your perspective of celebrating the little things and giving thanks to God in the midst of it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm feeling lots better now, which is hugely helpful especially on days like today when it starts pouring rain and I can't send the kids outside ;)

      Delete
  3. That pizza looks awesome!
    I can't imagine Easter without church (in person church...we still watch online). It's kind of ironic that this pandemic hit us during Lent because it really makes reflection easier (a lot of distractions have been taken away).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't begun to think too much about Easter, because I can't think that far ahead and also because not being able to physically be with our church community will be (and is) hard. Like you said, the timing is ironic with Lent. I think that, besides extra distractions being gone, having the built-in sacrifice and penance of not being able to gather together at Mass is making this year a powerful experience! It's also made me very grateful for technology; watching a livestream on the internet is not the same as being there in person, but getting to see and hear our pastor and pray along is so, so good.

      Delete