School starts this week. It has been five months since I have been in a real-life classroom with my students. After spring break, we immediately went to online learning for the remainder of the school year.
I have been so encouraged by those who have asked me how things are going, promising their prayers. I was encouraged by my friend, Sara, to create a SoulCollage® card that I could keep at school as a reminder to pray when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious. My prayer is that I can find some peace despite the fear of the unknown. My prayer is to remember to seek peace and pursue it, as St. Benedict instructs (RB Prologue 17), and to include time in my day for silence and meditation.
I was also inspired by two homilies today by Fr. Larry Gillick, Creighton University, and Fr. Thomas Leitner, Christ the King Priory based on the Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Matthew 14: 22-33 (full text at bottom of post).
Fr. Gillick’s homily (at approximately 1:08 here) suggests that prayer is a time of finding out our truth. Our truth is that we are, indeed, afraid despite Jesus’ request, “Do not be afraid.” We want our circumstances to change so that we are not afraid, but Jesus is telling us not to be afraid no matter what our situation is. Prayer asks us to live with this truth. Here is the miracle: our doubt is a part of our faith and by seeking God and trusting silence, the storm is not necessarily calmed, but we are put back “in the boat” with a bit more peace. Jesus is with us in the storm.
Fr. Thomas’ homily (at approximately :35 here) is a reminder to continue seeking God by building time for prayer in our lives. By being still, one can experience God’s presence. Even throughout a busy and hectic day, one can say this breath prayer, “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
With the message of our August Oblate meeting, the homilies, and my prayer, I create a card as a reminder to seek peace and pursue it, and that I am not alone.
I am one who is not alone. I am uplifted by the prayers of many.
I am one who is afraid of what may happen going back to school. I am afraid of all the “mitigating” efforts it requires, of the sickness and death that could come, of these stormy, tumultuous times.
I am one who must wear a mask in more ways than one. I am overwhelmed by the work ahead, by the uncertainty of it all.
I am one who is oddly comforted by the pandemics from centuries before my body, mind, and soul came to this earth. People go through stuff and people have always been afraid. It is human. Empires have risen and they have fallen, and we still need to make supper. The world keeps turning.
I am one who must seek peace. I must remember to pursue it. I am one who needs silence, who needs to remember to take the time to have silent moments of prayer, to stop making up stories in my head about what may happen.
I am one who has Christ within. I am the intersection of body, mind, and soul. I can rest into that space of spirit that is the Christ within.
I am one who stands in my truth. Yes, I am afraid. I cannot just wish that fear away. It is a careful balance. I could just tip right over if I am not centered; if I forget to remember to seek peace and pursue it.
I am one who has doubts about how things are going to work out, both pandemically and politically. I am one who also has hope and trust. I am a both/and kind of person, not either/or.
I am one who must take frequent breaks to remember my truth, to accept the gift of peace that is freely offered.
I find comfort in the Simon de Voil song, Be Still.
Be still and know that I am God
be still and know that I
be still and know that
be still and know
be still and
Matthew 14: 22-33
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”