CHOOSING THE BETTER PART
As Covid-19 sweeps across communities, Mahima Anthraper, a mom of three recounts her own experience of God revealing new insights through the fear and anxiety she felt.
As a home educating mother of three I enjoy our daily routine. It is steady, calm and most of all, predictable. My husband and I wake up together, we try to spend time in personal prayer till the kids wake up. After breakfast he goes to work, while we go for Holy Mass and then proceed on to whatever home education demands. In the evening we wait for him to come home, have dinner together, we say our family prayers and retire for the night. Often, I have wondered what a serene rhythm we have! A rhythm perfectly punctuated with Jesus Youth gatherings and ministry work, or an occasional late-night movie.
Yet often have I thought – Lord, is it fair for us to live such a serene life, when there is so much unrest, poverty, war, religious and racial hatred all over the world. “IT’S NOT FAIR”, my head frequently responds! It is absolutely NOT FAIR that we are the privileged Jesus Youth – we value faith, we value family, our God listens, our God speaks, our elders guide us, our youth love us. It’s NOT FAIR – my kids are well fed and wear good clothes always, while millions of children suffer from malnutrition. It’s NOT FAIR – natural calamities, suffering and hunger limited to certain parts of the world, while we enjoy the luxuries of life. It’s NOT FAIR – says my wandering mind often, albeit secretly grateful that God chose me not to be born or live in a poor African country, or in war torn Middle-East.
May be God who sees even the deepest thoughts of my heart did after all listen to my meanderings, and into our lives came a new disruption which I never dreamt of – COVID 19.
It didn’t really bother me first when I heard about the Corona outbreak in China in January. Like any other Western world dweller, I thought it to be quite far away from home. It bothered me slightly as it started getting its grip on Italy – after all, we have friends in Italy as well as our dear Pope. And then, in the last 3 weeks we heard of the number of infections going up in UK where we live, and life as we knew it changed. The newspapers say that it is just a matter of time before it arrives at every doorstep. And I lost the peace I once thought I had!
As the supermarket shelves were emptied by panic buyers, we decided as a family we would not hoard. It proved to be a high and lofty ideal to cling on to as days progressed. Shopping for everyday essentials became such a strenuous experience that at times I thought I must fill up my trolley in a panic buyer mode. My sleep became disturbed and I started waking up tired. The morning prayer time became a time to sit and get stressed about the ‘unknown’. My home school schedule was totally disrupted as my mind was wandering all the time. With a family spread cross four continents stretching from the east coast of Australia to the west coast of USA, and the pandemic spreading at great speed, I felt I needed to worry about everyone, and indeed it was a lot of worry for a single person to carry in her little heart. I cleaned and scrubbed, washed hands a thousand times – still the anxiety didn’t go away. Every time I was out shopping I looked around to see if people around looked sick and watching the news made my heart and head pound.
And then God in his mercy gave me the grace to have a look at myself – a quick glance at my anxiety, frustration, fear of the unknown, health, our family’s health, our income, life style – everything I cling on to on a daily basis to make this life on earth comfortable. My! That’s a lot of baggage I carry. Just the realization that I was being carried down the currents of a river, fast losing control, was enough to wake me up. Today, I hear the call to be still and rest in the knowledge that the Lord is my shepherd. My heart trembles as I ration the food and prepare for the uncertainly ahead. But the Lord is also opening my mind to see the joy in simple minimalistic living. My heart tells me that if I let go, God will teach me wonderful things during this time of trial, things I would have never contemplated doing otherwise.
As the pandemic spreads around me, I am pretty much holed up at home with kids. We just go out for the bare essentials. From tomorrow, the day after the Solemnity of St Joseph, it is expected to be a tighter lockdown. As I write this, most of the world about is in pretty much the same state as our little town or worse. And if your response to this situation has been similar to mine, dear friend, now is the time to wake up. This is the opportunity for us to grow closer to God. A God given chance to see where our treasure lies. A time to contemplate how easily perishable is that hard earned rhythm of life we all cling to. And to remember the faithfulness our God has shown us in the past.
It was not by our merit we were called into the community of Jesus Youth, nor by our effort our salvation paid for. The God-Man who died for you and me is there in our boat, sleeping. Cry out to him if your heart is worried, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mk 4:38). He will wake up; He will stand on the stern of your life, and your family. He might give you that look, asking, “Do you still have no Faith?” (Mk 4:40). BUT HE WILL CALM THE STORM. And we will say, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mk 3:41).
Jesus, I trust in you.
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