When was the last time I took a walk on the Cataraqui Trail, which is a few steps away from our home – maybe 2018? However, since the COVID-19 restrictions, for the last eleven days, I have been out to the grocery store and pharmacy pickups twice for us and others in the neighbourhood, but I also made time to go for walks when so I can get my blood circulating and get some clarity.
Living through this COVID-19 pandemic seems to teach us lessons that we never thought we needed to learn. I have been doing virtual church with prayers and sermons from my kitchen and posting them on our pastoral charge’s YouTube channel. It feels like I have started a new job and I have not met the congregants yet. We are navigating through uncharted waters.
The other day, I shared with a colleague that this Lenten Season feels like a real experiment of sorts—how to survive the wilderness of life… So, today; I am sharing some of my experiences and lessons I have learned with you, as we journey through this Lenten Season.
The Season of Lent begins with the forty days of Jesus in the wilderness. And, I am not sure how you feel but with this Corona Virus, the whole wide world feels like the wilderness. I am not sure about you, but every night when I watch the news, my heart breaks as tears flow down and my prayer continues to be, “God, may your Protective and Peace filled wings be evident to all—Lord have Mercy”.
We are fortunate where we live as we still have food in our grocery stores, meat at the butcher, and medication at the pharmacies. As I was walking today on the Cataraqui Trail, which used to be railway tracks, I arrived at a creek where living water was running and not only it was soothing the stones but also my soul at the same time… Here is the little video I recorded of that living water…
After recording the water rushing away, I started walking back home. The rugged, uncomfortable terrain of the trail full of pebbles and stones made me stop and look at the ground closer – and the words from the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, from The Gospel of Matthew came to mind, “Tell these stones to become bread”(4:3 New International Version). We know what Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
For a split second, these stones on the ground, that I was examining like a geologist or an archeologist, became bread for my soul by the Grace of God. The path became an invitation to a feast amid this time of solitude. These words in Gospel of Matthew is a reminder from Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (ESV). I questioned with gratitude, Can this be? During this, pandemic is my soul being fed in the wilderness of life.
I looked up to the blue sky, and I thanked God for this beautiful natural space where the stones have become food for my soul. I was already on my way back home and I arrived at the spot on the trail where the trees on both sides end and an open-air space with fields lead me home…
As I got to the open field, I realized it got silent, so I took a few steps back where the trees are and stopped, as I heard a symphony of praise, in the middle of my wilderness… There were busy birds, gathering, chattering, and flying from one branch to the other. I did not understand what they said, and I did not see all of them, as the physical presence of the birds was scarce, but it sounded like an army of birds gathering for an evening prayer. It felt like all the birds of the earth had gathered in this little corner and were singing evening chants for the Almighty. (Enjoy this amateur video, it truly does not do justice to the experience of being there with the birds, but I hope it gives you a glimpse of that amazing moment.)
Beloved, this COVID-19 pandemic is truly hitting us hard. The entire world is in turmoil, with the feeling of no way out. Sometimes I wonder if this Sci-Fi movie will end and we will get back to “normal”; whatever that normal was. But I sense that the Universe is forcing our hand to become united more than ever before. I am not sure what the next step is after this storm passes, but I hope and pray that we pay close attention to the blessings we are surrounded by; and when we come out the other side of this isolation, we come out more connected with the Creator and each other more than ever before–remembering that life is not a competition on who is the richest or fittest of all, but how we can pay attention to each other’s needs, feed each other as we are fed and work together to make this world a better place.
Take time to Love God with all your heart, your mind and your soul and Love your neighbour as yourself.
Beloved, Be well, Be patient, Be filled with Peace and remember always – You are NOT alone…
Thanks be to God.