Walking Our Faith: A return to what matters | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: A return to what matters

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

I remember seeing a collection of images from Chernobyl 33 years after the town was abandoned.

The images of the crumbling buildings, drained swimming pools, discarded children’s toys and decrepit remnants of former lives were a testament to the life that had been changed in an instant.

But there also were photographs of wild animals that had reclaimed their territory. Bison, fox, elk, wolves. They looked beautiful and defiant in the verdant wilderness that reclaimed this former civilized space.

The memory of those juxtaposed images came to me this morning as I thought about how quickly our lives have changed in just the past week. I remember when I decided to rewrite last week’s column thinking to myself, is it too soon to talk about this virus?

And yet between the time I sent in the column Thursday and when it published Saturday, everything had changed and my column went from feeling premature to being very timely. Now one week later, things have changed so drastically again that it’s difficult to imagine what our lives will look like one week from now.

And yet from this massive disruption we face each day as many parts of our society shut down to contain the virus, we see new shoots arising.

On Wednesday evening, my beloved Bible study at St. Mary’s was conducted through the video app Zoom. This allowed us to not only see Father Emmanuel as he taught the class, but to see one another. After the class, I was so filled with joy at being able to connect with my church friends, that I called Mom to tell her.

Speaking of Mom, she is in one of the highest risk groups, being 93 and having congestive heart failure, but she is still able to enjoy Sunday morning church by watching it on an iPad. The church is empty except for the pastor and an organ player.

All around town, people are meeting through video conferencing and emails and text messages, and somehow it feels as if we are prioritizing our spiritual connections with one another and with God during this time. It feels as if we are actually making more time for God exactly in this moment when we are all stuck at home where it feels as if we have endless time.

This morning, I watched a video by Bishop Robert Barron in which he quoted Blaise Pascal: “All of humanity‘s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” And Bishop Barron asked what would happen if we used this time to do exactly that? To sit quietly and contemplate our lives and consider how we might deepen our spiritual walk.

Perhaps picking up our Bibles and reading thoughtfully or pulling out that spiritual classic that’s been sitting on our bookshelves for years unopened and actually reading it. In my own life, I’ve begun watching daily Mass online, and I’ve discovered how much I enjoy this daily practice.

To be sure this is not a panacea, it is not an unplanned holiday. There are people who have lost their jobs, and we have already seen our community pulling together to provide meals and fund food banks. Can we donate what we have in abundance with those who have suddenly lost their jobs? The Family & Intercultural Resource Center is always in need of more food donations, but now more than ever.

We have no idea about how long this time of quarantine will last nor what our lives will look like once it has passed. There are many things about this time that are out of our control and that can leave us feeling anxious and afraid and untethered.

But perhaps that is even more the reason why we need to take hold of the things that we can control. And one of those things is our choice in how we spend our days.

Where do you want to be when this crisis is over, and when you look back on this time, how do you wish you had filled your days? How might you have changed your life?

In the coming week, you might spend 10 minutes thinking about these questions and what your answers are. When you come up with those answers, you can then spend 30 minutes each day working toward that decision.

And I hope each day you invite God into your life to work with God toward a dream you might reignite during this time, reconnect with your spiritual self and pray when you feel anxious.

We face challenging times, and I can’t imagine where this will end up or how we will be changed. But when I think about those beautiful wild creatures that have reclaimed Chernobyl, I believe something beautiful could come from this.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.

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