October 23, 2020
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 477

Ephesians 4:1-6
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 12:54-59

Praying Ordinary Time

The reading from Saint Paul from his prison cell really touched my heart.  He was sitting there writing about gentleness, unity of the Spirit, and peace – not a sign of bitterness or resentment against his oppressors.  Certainly, his oppressors did not “get it,” as Jesus remarks in the gospel.  I think the pull to the first reading for me is the sense of chaos right now.  Roller coaster rides of family members dealing with COVID-19 . . . everything I plan is like a sandcastle built on the beach at low tide waiting for high tide to roll in . . . uncertainty in the future. 

New Year’s Day year started with me in the hospital recovering from surgery with uncertainty of that outcome. Then the bombshell that has been everyone’s life since March 2020.  I could no longer reach out and hug a student who was hurting or just to say hello.  I could no longer hug most people – I was blessed to be with my husband, daughter and granddaughter during the early months of our isolation and had those loved ones to hug.  It is still different to “elbow bump” as a greeting or good-bye. My heart broke for those who were truly isolated and continues to ache as I hear the various holiday plans for many families. Yet, Saint Paul in his ability to look beyond his current circumstances exemplifies so much for us – the thought of bearing with one another through love. So, I must focus on what we have gained as we lived through (and continue to live through) this unprecedented time. Because, it is also a year of miracles. For me, a “little” miracle of finding a mass in my chest and it being taken care of without evident negative consequences. For my brother-in-law, 17 days hospitalized with COVID-19 and now seemingly back with normal without sequalae.  For my sister, a greater appreciation of the little things in life and recognizing the power of prayer.  And our latest miracle, my mother-in-law on the road (albeit it long and winding) to recovery.  Last Friday, the picture of her in her hospital bed brought tears to my eyes, today the picture was her bright-eyed sitting in a chair, smiling on the 66th Anniversary!  God is Good! 

I listened this week to two of my nursing students present (via Zoom!) to a small class of high school students on the topic of generosity.  As they presented it was clear that their emphasis was generosity of the spirit, not about giving gifts.  They were tying this into the skills for happiness.  The nursing students used a short video that depicted people saying affirmations to friends, spouses, parents, etc.  It was a great reminder of how we can support each other on a regular basis.  No need for special occasions, just affirming those who we love and care about – pointing out those special “gifts” that we bring to each other.  Recognizing (and letting the other know that you recognize) not only their unique gifts but also how these gifts contribute to you and your well-being.  As we show appreciation for each other’s gifts and “specialness,” I believe that we move to preserve the unity of the spirit.  We can be bonded with a great sense of peace – that doesn’t mean that life is perfect or that we think the other is perfect.  It means we are able to appreciate each of God’s masterpieces even with the flaws.  One of my husband’s and mine things to say to each other regularly is Have I told you today, how much I love you?   It may seem a silly “ritual” to some – the answer is as you may as guessed, No, with a sappy, sad look. It invites the other to affirm that love with words and a hug.  It reminds us to appreciate each other and the blessed life we have, complete with bumps and unexpected turns – especially when we remember the most important part of our lives – God!

one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Perhaps Danny Gokey’s song is the best summary: Love God, Love People

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