April Fools?

I shared the other day on the Fireside Chat video that Anna broke down and began crying when Amy and I shared with her we wouldn’t be going anywhere on Easter Sunday to physically see family, that soccer was probably canceled and that we wouldn’t be going on our planned trip to Tennessee the week after Easter. I think her tears best captured how we all are feeling with the COVID19 pandemic. We didn’t sign up for this.  Any of this. This is NOT the April we planned for or wanted!
 
We wanted spring training. We wanted to go to church during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. We wanted those spring break trips to Florida, Alabama or just the planned visits with friends going out to eat or having a drink.  We wanted to go to the movies.  We wanted to put in time at the gym.  We wanted the Masters golf tournament. We wanted March Madness and the NCAA Men’s AND Women’s basketball championships. We wanted opening day of Major League Baseball.  We wanted to go to school and see our friends. We wanted baseball, soccer, races, proms, graduations and Palm Sunday processions. We wanted it all.  
 
But this April? This isn’t the April or the spring time any of us had planned for or wanted.
 
But this is the April we’ve been handed: daily reports of disease and death. An economy that’s in freefall. Urgent calls for masks, gloves and ventilators. Another extended timeline of distance and isolation. And, most of all, a time of fear. We fear for our family. We fear for the well-being of our health workers. We fear this microscopic, COVID-19 culprit that stalks our streets like a thief. I fear for two of my sisters working in the front lines as nurses in their respective institutions.  I fear for so many of our parishioners who are in the health care field faithfully serving those who are ill and in need of care. I fear for Amy pregnant with baby #3.  I fear for Anna and Peter.  I fear for you.
 
So we need to brace ourselves. Adjust our expectations. April as we wanted will not happen. God willing, it will reappear in 2021. Hopefully the year of 2021 will be known as our “Comeback Year.”  But the 2020 version? It’s time for a deep breath, a steady resolve and a few decisions. I’m thinking of three basic essential tools.
 
GRATITUDE. “Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18).  Collect your blessings. Catalog God’s kindnesses. Assemble your reasons for gratitude and recite them. Look for JOY around you.  It’s a good discipline and practice for all of us in these days. Even the tiniest bud on a tree or plant is a sign of joy.  We can either choose to be bitter and disappointed or we can choose to be grateful for this time.  I’m hearing of families having wonderful intentional togetherness in this time- time which we normally wouldn’t have because of our crazy hectic schedules. 
 
Look at the totality of the situation. Always be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks whatever happens. Try the Jesus Prayer…repeating the short mantra “Jesus, have mercy on me.”  Place yourself gratefully in the presence of God always.
 
Gratitude is always an option and practice.  Wake up and be grateful for the gift of life, your family, friends, and the gift of time to shelter in faith at home.  And for those of us who have essential work, be grateful for your employment. Write one or two things down a day you are grateful for.  Make it a habit.
 
OTHERS. And, be kind to others. Be the family member who offers to wash the dishes. Be the co-worker who reaches out to check on the team. Be the neighbor who checks in on the elderly person next door. Use the example of Cliff and Yvonne Hooks and the Barneveld Community Café where there is no charge for food but rather an opportunity to care for each other even in our social distancing. Personally, I’ve been able to connect with folks I haven’t spoken to in years because of this time given to me. Look up that old classmate, co-worker, neighbor or friend and call them.  Connect with others. Remember those who are isolated with no family to be with in this time.
 
You’ll be better because of it. Research bears this out. Studies have shown that when we communicate and help others, it triggers dopamine. That really means our bodies react positively when we help others.  Discipleship and love entails seeking the good of the other.  Seeking joy?  Do good for someone else. It really is better to give than receive. Make a card and send it to them. Make a difference in the life of others in this time.
 
DEDICATION. It’s time for gratitude. It’s time to serve others and it’s time for a little dedication. If there is one thing my parents instilled in me it was the gift of being dedicated to what I was doing.  No one worked harder or was more dedicated than my dad.  Whether it was something little or a big project, from working on Zenith TVs or helping at church, he gave 100% to whatever it was he happened to be involved with in that moment. My parents taught me to put in the work learning to do the little things. Both mom and dad gave us the necessary tools but it was us who needed to do the work. And this came to our work and relationships with others. Dad had a grit about him- he was going to repair that old tv, care for the grass and garden, make improvements to the house, help with things at church, and make calls to a list of friends and acquaintances determined to lift their spirits with his jokes and humor.  Dedication simple means being committed to a task or purpose. Maybe use this time to re-commit or dedicate yourself to the work and relationships around you. 
 

When we put in the work and fix our eyes on hope, wonderful things can happen. Hope is ALIVE!

Gratitude.

Others.

Dedication.

G-O-D.
 

God is still in charge. This Easter the tomb is still empty. People are ministering and caring for each other in more intentional and profound ways than ever before. The chorus of Alleluias will be sung and echoed on tv, radio air waves and live stream throughout the world. Children will still find colored eggs and baskets in their homes and backyards and will play in the outside fresh air.  The birds have returned chirping up a chorus of songs.  There are signs of life all around us. 

April Fools? This is no joke. It’s not the month we wanted, but maybe, just maybe, it is the time we all needed. So perhaps see this time as blessed or bonus time.  Take the time to be Grateful, to think of Others and have a Dedication to be well, be safe, to grow, to do a little more around the house you hadn’t really anticipated…to spend a little more quality time with the kids which for some of us we will never have again…to actually pray at home with your family…to cherish meals together…to take walks or go for bike rides…to check in those isolated, lonely and forgotten…in other words, use this time to just be…to just be h-u-m-a-n.  As we seek to physically protect ourselves, let’s be spiritually connected. Remember, G-O-D has the entire world in his hands. 

 


3 Responses to “April Fools?”

  1. Pat Smerge says:

    That’s was wonderful. Thank you. You had a great Dad. He taught you wonderful values. I pray your sisters will come through unharmed.

  2. Dona says:

    True! Love this. One day at a time❤️

  3. Nick Kirch says:

    Thank you! This is what I needed to read today and reflect on the April Fools joke that was played on us. It just may be a gift in disguise. Thank you and all who are praying and working with the sick.

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