The last few months have been hard. Although I am an introvert—and introverts have had a built-in advantage during pandemic restrictions—I have had enough of uncertainty and lockdowns. I know I am not alone in that sentiment! Every event is in pencil in my calendar. Every possible opportunity to gather with friends or family must be ready to be cancelled on a moment’s notice. Impatience, grumpiness are close at hand in and around me. At times, a weary depression settles in, which then leads to guilt. Why do I feel guilty? Because I am a Christian. Christians are a people of hope with an eye on God’s eternal promises; how could I feel depressed?
But I have—and sometimes still do. It is in those moments that I’ve met God’s grace that is rooted in “us” and not “me.” Despite all the pressures we face to be independent, strong and self-reliant, we were created for community. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and created all the creatures of the earth and ultimately a human companion for him. (Genesis 2:18-22) We were created with differing gifts, strengths and weaknesses so that together we might be the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12) We build communities in which we rely on the work of one another for our daily life. All is rooted in the commandment to love one another as oneself. (Matthew 22:39)
When one part of the body suffers all suffer with it. This has been so apparent during the pandemic; our interconnectedness has been revealed. Archbishop Desmond Tutu introduced us to the African concept of ubuntu—”I am because we are.” Among Indigenous peoples, relationships and family ties are paramount in making decisions for the community.
So when I am not coping—when I am not feeling strong, when I am depressed—it is okay. I am human and am part of interdependent relationships where others provide the strength I do not have. They provide hope when I feel hopeless; provide prayer and faith when I am too discouraged. Sometimes this is offered directly through friends, family or colleagues. Other times it is the arm’s-length gift of an artist, a poet, a musician, an author, a photographer whose gifts heal my heart. And always I am wrapped in God’s creation, of which I am a part—where a breath of clean air, the sounds of birds in the trees, the crunch of snow or the beauty that will emerge in the spring can slip into the heart to heal.
As we enter Lent once again and reflect on our baptismal call, I pray we will deepen our consciousness of the whole community and creation of which we are a part—that “other” that carries us when we are discouraged, visits us when we are sick, feeds us when we are hungry and heals our bodies, hearts and souls. With thanksgiving for the strength and support of others, may we deepen our commitment to give our own strength and support back to them.