The plans we postponed will likely be postponed again. The cancellations of milestone events continue to stack up. It's beginning to sink in that we're not just "in this together," we're in this for the long haul.
Among the many lessons we are learning as a result of the coronavirus, the one most crucial to our well-being may be the adage most of us heard when we were children: patience is a virtue. Parents or grandparents used to remind us of that when we wanted something we couldn't have, or when the answer to our pleading was an unequivocal "no."
When the virus first took hold, few of us had any idea just how long this disruption would last. Now, well into the fifth month of what I'm calling Covidtide, little lasting progress has been made. Most of us are trying to figure out what the "new normal" will be, but we're still reeling from the loss of our old normal. Frankly, I can't consider how things are right now as anything even vaguely akin to "normal."
The pandemic has been utterly devastating for some, but it hasn't been a walk in the park for anyone. Living with unrelenting uncertainty, restrictions, and distance from other people has been challenging. Anxieties about finances and health have everyone on edge. Some of us have struggled to find yet another thing to do with all the time on our hands while others are overworked and exhausted.
But I think the most difficult aspect of our lives right now is settling into the fact that we can't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel we're in. It's sad but clear that we're probably going to be stuck in the darkness of our current situation for a while. The hope that summer would bring us relief is gone. The plans we postponed will likely be postponed again. The cancellations of milestone events continue to stack up. It's beginning to sink in that we're not just "in this together," we're in this for the long haul.
I used to tell myself that you can take just about anything for 24 hours. (That thought got me through seven childbirths.) It was a pretty effective mindset for getting through pain I knew would eventually end. But this is different. We have no idea how or when or even if the COVID-19 crisis will end. And we can't even accurately assess the pain people are suffering from it. We can hope for vaccines, therapeutic drugs, a weaker viral mutation; we can look to scientists or the government. But none of these will give us the patience and perseverance we will need to come through this.
Prayer will. That's because prayer ushers us through the present moment and into eternity. Prayer gives us the divine point of view, God's wide-angle perspective on human events. Prayer teaches us patience. It produces persistence and perseverance. It empowers us for the long haul.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired. I may have gotten used to wearing a mask, to keeping six or eight feet from other people at Sunday Mass and in the grocery store, but my patience for it all is wearing thin. I will not be able to keep going -- to embrace the things that ought to change, or hang on to the things that shouldn't -- on my own steam. Knowing that is probably the greatest hidden gift of this pandemic.
By now, we all suspect that we're running a marathon and not a sprint. To make it to the finish line we will need the hope and strength and endurance that only God can give us. We will need patience and perseverance, and we will find them only when we pray.
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.