On Time, Solitude, and Selflessness

By Marc Rademaker

I’ve mentioned before that God gives our time back to us when we give time to Him. But I never imagined that would play out like this. We are living in a time unique to history, in which everything around us has shut down in response to this pandemic. And there are three positive things that I find myself learning in this sometimes scary time of quarantines and social distancing.

  1. We are given an incredible amount of time

Time, it seems, is not in short supply at this point in many of our daily lives. So, let’s make the most of that time!

I’m the first to admit that the past few weeks have and will continue to be an enormous learning curve. With each cancelled event or plan, it can be easy to fall into despair. While the events of the past few weeks have come as somewhat of a shock, it is all the more important to look at the ways in which we can continue to better ourselves during this time. I miss going to Mass in person tremendously, but I have personally never found it easier to participate in Mass via the live streams that are available (check out Cathedral of Christ the King on Facebook for Mass every day!). Of course, that convenience lends itself to the ease of falling into laziness, gluttony, and other habitual sins that can also plague us when we have too much time on our hands. But what is important to seek out when most of our obligations and entertainment are gone is our relationships, which lends itself in part to a second facet I am learning.

  1. We are isolated (but not really)

There may be quarantining and lockdowns galore, but we are not really alone. There are relationships in each of our lives that have never been more important. The first of these relationships is, of course, our relationship with Jesus. When have we ever been in a time with the opportunity to be so reliant on Him? When have we ever been able to be so detached from the world as right now? Instead of seeing this situation as a lack of things that take up our time, let’s see it as an amazing opportunity to get to know God in a deeper way than we ever have! After all, one thing I am realizing is how little everything else besides Jesus matters in the grand scheme of our lives – and of eternal life. We may be seeing so much of the world fall away, but He is still here, with a love more present than ever. Especially as we near Holy Week and Easter, take this time to fully enter into Him.

Practical Tip: Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross

Living in a time like this can bring lots of trials, and that can make it more difficult to see God. But one way in which He can greatly relate to us is via His suffering. Visualizing the journey Jesus took from the Agony in the Garden to His Crucifixion has given me a deeper comfort and peace. Knowing that our Lord and Savior went through such a trial – and overcame it for me and you – makes it easier to lift up what I am going through to that same Lord and Savior. Bonus points for building a relationship with our Mother Mary through the Rosary. 

Practical Tip: Try Kneeling or Taking up Another Posture

At home, sitting and laying down for most of the day are pretty common poses. Kneeling or taking up another posture that switches up movement can allow us to better focus on prayer. In this way, we can enter into the sacrifice we are making in choosing prayer. Bonus points for getting us moving when the couch is just so comfortable.

Besides our heavenly relationships, those here on Earth are vital now especially. We are so blessed to have the capabilities that we do to communicate, so let’s take advantage of them. Those who build you up, those who you think need building up, those who you miss, those who you haven’t talked to in a while: reach out. The devil is good at dividing in times of trouble, but creating a force of goodness and connectedness makes him run for the hills. And this brings me to a third point that I am learning.

  1. We have the opportunity to love differently than ever before – and maybe it’s how we should always be loving

There aren’t just our loved ones who need company and love right now. We are given an opportunity to love people we may have never even met, people who can often be overlooked. But how can I actively love when I’m stuck at home? I’m so glad you asked.

First, think of other people who are out there in the world who are especially vulnerable right now. The first group that comes to mind for me are those in nursing homes and the homebound. While I can’t physically go out and visit them, there are still things I can do to show them love right now. One awesome internet campaign I have seen is individuals sending beautifully decorated and heartfelt cards to nursing homes and neighbors who are alone. Bonus points: making cards is a good quarantine creative outlet AND coloring is a great stress-reliever. Boom.

Another group is those typically served by nonprofits, such as people experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. While I can’t necessarily go serve a meal or bring food donations to a location, a monetary donation to a good charity can go a long way. Churches, homeless shelters, free clinics, and other nonprofits are in great need of our help.

The very best way to love right now? Staying home. While it can be very difficult to stay in the same place for any extended period of time, this is the definition of love: willing the good of the other. Being selfless takes effort and sacrifice, but especially now, those things matter. When we make the choice to stay home, limit our interactions, and abide by social distancing, we are playing a key part in the safety of all of our neighbors by slowing the spread of the virus. I know that I don’t always “feel” like this contribution is as grand and selfless as, say, being on the front lines as a healthcare worker, but that’s not the point. One thing all of these acts of love have in common is that they are selfless and they are quiet, simple acts of love. Bonus points.

There’s one more individual that is often alone during this time. One powerful image that I’ve been reflecting on involves Jesus in the Tabernacle, unable to leave and always waiting for visitors. He longs for us, and is always waiting for us to come to Him. Maybe this time when we are unable to leave can give us a better appreciation of this steadfast, stoic love that He offers.

Practical Tip: Send Your Guardian Angel to the Tabernacle in Your Place

This is another tip that was shared with me recently, and something that is such a gift of love. The option of Adoration online is present as well, and with the intention of coming to Him with all that we are, Jesus accepts us with open arms.

So, in this uncharted territory, reflect on how you are and how you can be selflessly loving others. And when the world returns to “normal,” let’s pray that this love continues. There are many who are doing great acts of selflessness right now, but even every seemingly little way to spread love is vital. When I look back at this time in 20 years, I want to be proud of who I was, how I fell totally into the Lord, and how much I learned about myself and my God. How do you want to remember this time?

May God grant us unity and peace as we embrace this learning curve together.

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