Spirituality in the Time of Corona
By Casey Sprehe
On March 13, 2020, John Bel Edwards’ press conference changed life in an instant. My overly (probably imprudently so) spring schedule was wiped out within the week. The day to day immediately looked different due to COVID-19.
I do not remember all my emotions at that time, but one emotion I do remember is relief. I felt like God reached down into my life and silenced the noise and busyness to focus on him.
For the first time in a long time, my prayer life soared. I marked out larger chunks of my day for personal prayer which filled me up to minister as wife and mother. My husband and I’s couple prayer time looked better too as I was not falling asleep anymore while we prayed.
As a family, we took more time to read books on the saints and virtues, watch the Mass and prayerfully unpack what was going on in our world. For Lent, we traded our CRS Rice Bowls for a different solidarity with the poor action: not receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for an extended period. We prayed to be more united to our brothers and sisters who do not have the luxury of receiving weekly or daily like we previously had. Holy Week and Easter was a sacred time for our family that I’ll never forget as we role played on Spy Wednesday, washed feet and had a Seder meal on Thursday, made a Stations of the Cross in our backyard on Friday and had a special Easter Vigil Mass in our pajamas while we watched alongside my in-laws in Colorado.
I could sense the sacredness so poignantly. God showed up in our family loudly and clearly. He had been there all along. I finally had ears, eyes and space for him.
God bestowed another gift: A Mother’s Day outdoor Mass at our parish with our church family. It is surely one of my top Mass experiences. Coming together after being apart from our church family and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist filled my soul to overflowing.
Then, for me personally, something switched. I know in my head that I attend Mass to offer sacrifice and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. For that, I am extremely grateful to be back in the church. However, as we moved back into the church and restrictions changed, changed again and then changed again, I began to feel frustration, anxiety and disconnection. I was hoping to come back and feel like our normal community again. Instead, I felt sterility as we sat far apart from others and wore masks which literally masked our facial expressions. I felt anxiety if a child did not keep his mask on or if he sneezed or even sniffed in the wrong direction. I felt disconnected because I did not know what others were thinking or feeling. Though being close to the Body of Christ, I suddenly felt far away.
No matter my feelings or experiences, God is here and unchanging. As I try to process all the spiritual implications of COVID-19, I realize it has been an interesting cycle of spiritual consolation and desolation in quite opposite ways than I would have thought. God continues to speak in the highs and the lows of this time.
My prayer as I write this exactly 4 months later is that I do not go back to business as usual but rather that I can sense Him in whatever aspect of life I find myself in.