Grace and the Pandemic

I had a conversation with Robyn my spiritual director about the pandemic, and all the suffering it is causing. I had “dissociated” myself and was treating the plight we are in objectively, analytically. I run a business helping people prepare their organisations to withstand the pandemic’s effects. But something was troubling me (grace was giving me a ‘nudge’) and I wanted to talk about it with her. She led me through a series of steps to get in touch with my hidden emotions, and two emerged from my depths.

The two emotions were love and fear. I realized how Robyn loved me at that moment. Here am I hurting and she was in touch with me, being with me, helping me help myself. In these days of “self-isolation” grace brings people together, perhaps in ways we wouldn’t ordinarily experience in normal circumstances. Grace is using the pandemic to teach us to love and open ourselves to the love of others.

The second emotion I uncovered was my fear — of suffocation.  I know that people in the critical stage of the COVID-19 disease experience an inability to breathe, and that frightened me. Why? Because I had experienced that as an asthmatic. But then Robyn helped me see that I could help myself — that frighted person within me — by gently placing my hand where the fear seemed to be located in my body. It was in my chest, affecting my breathing.  I then remembered how my own father had comforted me when I was a boy, sitting on my bed, putting his hand gently on my stomachache, helping the pain to go away. I put my hand on my chest and felt my breathing get easier and my fear of suffocation diminish and disappear. That memory of my father’s healing touch was a gift of grace. But that wasn’t the end of God’s gifts in this moment.

Robyn then brought Jesus into our conversation. The risen Jesus in whom we all reside. When I had sensed my own hidden fear, I was also sensing the fear of everyone around the world at this time, as the pandemic strikes. And, when I put my hand on my chest, over my own fear, and comforted myself, I was touching everyone in the body of Christ and comforting them. That was another gift of grace! This incredible global vision of how grace was at work through me, through all of us, in the midst of the pandemic gave me joy in that moment. I know now that when I put my hand on my chest to comfort myself, I am also comforting the world — that is the way heaven works.

“So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22