In yesterday’s devotion Jay captured well the toll the last few months have begun to take on us and our communities. And just in the last 24 hours I too have heard many different stories regarding the local impact of the pandemic: Someone who is gravely vulnerable to Covid-19 and is eager to maintain quarantine restrictions. Another whose family is literally having trouble putting food on the table because of the loss of both the husband and wife’s jobs. I heard reports of domestic abuse calls. I have heard yet more stories of elderly persons languishing in isolation and loneliness. I heard of a business going under. I heard of someone who woke up in the morning feeling depressed.
Everyone is rattled right now. And it is easy for us to become isolated in our own concern and fail to understand the concerns of others. We may become quick-tempered, sharp with the tongue, easily frustrated. When the reality is, right now we are all living in one kind of crisis or another. My crisis might not be yours, and yours might not be mine, but they are crises nonetheless.
When we insist on being understood by others we usually guarantee two things: 1) That we will most likely continue to not be understood because people won’t be able to hear us over our screaming. 2) And that we won’t understand anyone else!
In Galatians 6:2 we are admonished to “bear one another’s burdens.” To “bear” means to “carry.” Or even more literally, it means to “shoulder.” The point being, we are not just called to provide assistance to one another, but to identify with one another. I can assist you and still be self-focused. But when I “carry” your burden I am saying that your problem will become as my problem. And I am not just helping you get through this, but am committed to getting through it with you.
In times of stress and strain it can be especially important to be quick to listen and slow to speak; to take a deep breath and exercise patience; to choose not to be easily offended; to ask thoughtful questions and learn from another’s experience; to serve and wash another’s feet.
As has often been said, we will get through this time. We will get through it one way or another. But how we get through it matters. And it matters that we get through it together.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury, pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seekto be consoled as to console,to be understood as to understand,to be loved as to love.For it is in giving that we receive,it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen. ---- Saint Francis of Assisi