I said goodbye to winter and hello to spring, when spring was still a blank, open canvas, ready to be painted vibrant grassy green and peony pink.
But this spring was not quite what I expected. It was tough; no doubt about it.
This spring, and all that it entailed, stretched me beyond my comfort zone.
New life experiences took over my normal routine.
My days included activities I was not expecting.
None of it was of my own choosing.
And I know I am not alone in this. All of us share in a similar experience of living through a pandemic, being quarantined, and adding new words to our vocabulary, such as social distancing and distance learning.
This spring is a season I will be unpacking for awhile. What did I really learn the past three months? I don’t think I have a complete answer. But I pray that I can remain open to an unfolding of learned lessons in the days and months ahead.
For now, here are four things I learned this spring:
1. It is OK to feel all the feelings.
When we entered quarantine and cities across the country began sheltering-in-place, the days felt strange. Often, I did not know what to think or feel, as a flood of various thoughts and emotions filled my mind, body, and spirit. One moment, I felt strong. (Or at least I acted strong for my children.) And the next, my heart pounded with anxiety.
But even in the midst of uncertainty, the Lord reassured me that it is OK to feel all the feelings, to be present to them and honest about them.
And then, the Lord invited me to entrust them to Him. Over and over again, surrender it all to Him.
“My child, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal. Be sincere of heart, be steadfast, and do not be alarmed when disaster comes. Cling to Him and do not leave Him, so that you may be honored at the end of your days. Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and the chosen in the furnace of humiliation. Trust Him and He will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in Him.” // Sirach 2:1-6
2. Mass at home is still Mass.
This spring I also experienced 10 weeks of not going to my parish church for Sunday Mass. That first livestream Mass on March 22 was quite strange, but my family and I settled into our reality and made the most of our Sundays. I am grateful for the grace that the Act of Spiritual Communion offers, and I savor the ritual of cooking brunch together that evolved. I did my best to make the most of these unique Sundays at home, to treat them like a gift …
Beyond Sunday, I tried to do prayerful things I always say I want to, but find myself too busy to actually do:
- Scripture reading
- Praying the Rosary
- Spiritual reading
Everyday, I tried to find something to be grateful for. Everyday, I tried to live as [a child] of the light. (Ephesians 5) Was it hard? Sometimes, yes. But I am grateful that these days kept me searching for God’s ever-presence, and when I found Him, He always comforted me.
3. Trying new things combats fear.
This spring, my heart compelled me to explore my artistic side. As I child, no one encouraged me to paint, draw, or create. I never got messy. I always worried about the perfection of the final product, instead of enjoying the process.
One day in late February, during a time of prayer, the Lord asked me, “Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40)
Creating some Bible journaling pages has been my response to Him.
For 44 years, perfectionism and the fear of failure have paralyzed me more often than not. But in that prayerful conversation with Jesus, I saw Him looking past all of that to the real me, the unafraid me.
This spring, Jesus appeared in new ways, in real ways. He began breaking into the fear. He started quenching my desire to be free. And oh, how my heart burns within … (Luke 24:32)
4. The Holy Spirit comes to restore.
“Until the spirit from on high is poured out on us. And the wilderness becomes a garden land and the garden land seems as common as forest. Then judgment will dwell in the wilderness and justice abide in the garden land. The work of justice will be peace; the effect of justice, calm and security forever.” // Isaiah 32:15-17
This spring, the Lord consoled me in countless ways by showing me just how much He is at work in this world—amid pandemic; amid injustice; amid what feels like helplessness, pain, sorrow, and grief. The work of the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, desires to come upon us, as wind and flame, as peaceful strength, to continue God’s work of renewing, recreating, and restoring humanity and the whole cosmos to Christ. And while this work may seem hidden at times, it is made known, made visible to eyes of faith.
For just a moment, God gave me a very small glimpse at the tapestry He is weaving. The stitches, intricately woven together; the colors of earth—green and blue—so vibrant and full of calming hope. So often, as we look upon life, upon what is going on in this broken world, we only see the messy backside of the tapestry. All jumbled and chaotic. But this glimpse, meant to be shared, was a reassurance that God is at work. His vision is much clearer, much broader than ours. God is in control. He is at work. He is King, and His Kingdom will have no end.
What did you learn this spring? Please share your life lessons in the comments.
I was too late to include this post in Emily P. Freeman’s seasonal “What I Learned” linkup. But it was the inspiration behind it anyway.