We have seen neighbors helping neighbors and a collective awareness raised about the needs of our fellow person. From these difficult and dark moments, moments of light and beauty have emerged.
This pandemic has been extraordinarily challenging. Everyone will experience a direct impact on their lives during these days: some lasting, some fleeting, some trivial, some grave. Regardless of your station in life, you have been impacted by COVID-19.
This moment in history is being seared into our collective memory and into the history books for generations to come. My question is: what will the history books say? What will our memories be of this time?
We should never forget the losses people faced over these last few months. The deaths of loved ones, compounded by an inability to grieve with family and friends is a pain that too many people have endured. Not knowing if there would be money for rent or to put groceries on the table because hours were cut or businesses shut down should not be forgotten. These real and raw moments have directly impacted every person on this planet and will have an impact for years to come.
Will we focus on the stories of sickness and death, increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, loss of jobs and housing instability? Will we think back about the extreme disruption and lament the lost opportunities; life interrupted and plans put on hold? These are all legitimate and powerful things to remember and none of them should be forgotten, but should this be the dominant message from these challenging days?
My favorite feature in any church or chapel is the representation of the Stations of the Cross. For me, these images of a real person facing humiliation, torture, experiencing the heartbreak of saying good-bye to his own mother and ultimately accepting death upon a cross, is one of the most powerful things to reflect on. It reminds me that Jesus was a real person with choices and relationships, unjustly convicted and sentenced to die. This is a powerful and depressing thought, but it is not the end.
We must not ignore the Passion of Jesus Christ. We must try and comprehend his humanity, the pain and suffering he endured but we must not dwell too long on it. Instead, we must turn to the joy of the Resurrection and focus on the goodness that came from the suffering of Jesus. It does not take away the very real pain that he endured and nor should it. We must never forget the suffering as it is a reminder that we should always seek justice and to treat others with dignity and humanity.
The treatment of others is what I hope dominates the collective memory. During these times of challenge, people have responded with generosity and compassion. We have seen neighbors helping neighbors and a collective awareness raised about the needs of our fellow person. From these difficult and dark moments, moments of light and beauty have emerged.
At the Catholic Schools Foundation, countless people have reached out wanting to help, wanting to share their resources with others, wanting to make a difference. This will be my memory of the pandemic. My memory will be of people being there for our students, their neighbors, and our community.
As this pandemic rages on, it is easy to lose hope and focus on all that has been lost. Our challenge is to remember the moments of goodness and light that have pierced the darkness and pray that these moments continue beyond the pandemic. Let us always look not at the sorrow of the Passion but to the joy and hope of the Resurrection.
- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.