We are inundated by reports of pain, grief, and even hopelessness. This gloom seems to lurk and is exacerbated by social distancing and being shuttered in our home. As of now, we cannot control the virus, and we are helpless. The feeling is similar to when you walk down a dark and unfamiliar path. Each step is hesitant, you focus on your balance, and your eyes are continually adjusting and seeking the destination. It is unsettling, and you just want to find the way back to your own sense of security.
In praying over the feelings that many are encountering, one word has been covering my prayers, and it is resiliency. To be resilient is part of the narrative of our faith and our history. Think of Abraham and the questions. The gloom evident as the Israelites wandered in the desert. Grief is intimately felt by the frightened and doubting disciples in an isolated room. In this week’s Gospel, we hear of that uneven path toward Emmaus, where Christ set our footing straight. The resilience of the emerging church found in Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s faith despite the insurmountable obstacles.
In each story of our relationship with the Holy One, we find resilience. Resilience is the mystical breath of the Holy Spirit that propels us forward. It is the seed containing new life waiting to emerge from the other side of darkness. It is the hope found in Jesus Christ. Resiliency is more than a word; it is a holy way of living in times of uncertainty. Resiliency is embedded in our souls.
In times of crisis or pain, we can be either broken open or broken apart. This brokenness is often centered in the middle of our being; the heart. When we have broken apart, we are mired in hopelessness. From the recesses of our being, we emit a cry of despair. All too often, seemingly without a way forward, the heart hardens, and our pain is transmitted. Anxiousness is projected on others, irritations are verbalized, and abuse is realized. How often do we scroll social media and we are no longer shocked by the attacks, the cynicism, the “call-out culture” or the quick degradation of another member of our shared humanity. The hardened heart eventually stops giving life. For this reason, I suspect that is why the first words of Christ to the disciples after the resurrection were “peace be with you.”
Yet, in our brokenness, we are broken open instead of apart, hearts open to the transformative power of the Holy One. While we do not know what the next step will bring, an open heart on this path is always surprised by God. Despite the gloom and grief, we find Christ in every instance. In His presence, the heart is tender, pliable, and resilient. For this reason, we are moved by the doctors, nurses, first responders. We are moved to reach out by the depth of another’s suffering without receding into our own isolation. We can find life amidst the shadow of death. The open heart becomes stronger and beats with the heart of Christ.
As we step forth into the next few months, when we feel lost, broken, or overcome with grief, allow your heart to be broken open. Yes, those feelings of uncertainty and doubt are real. We will worry about what our income may be, how many people will return to church, or even if we will fall ill. Yet our resiliency is found in the willingness to open our hearts to the certainty that Christ is with us. In the place of a resilient and open heart, hope, patience, empathy, and faith take root. Yes, we will find joy and love. Place your lives in the one who guides us and points to new life. This place allows hearts to soften, our vision to adjust, and to simply breathe. We are resilient people who follow a resilient God. For this reason, it is Christ who reminds us that He will be with us “until the end of time.”