I have been awake for over an hour, earlier than I usually awake. But that happens sometimes in this state in my life. Because I am awake, I have been trying to understand a differing opinion than my own that I heard the other day. It may have just been yesterday, I honestly don't have the greatest concept of time in pandemic life. So here it goes anyway.
A person stated that their spiritual health is more important than their physical health because they will eventually die anyway. I am trying to comprehend this. I know as a Catholic, outward signs of inner graces are very important to one's faith. You have the Eucharist, Confession, baptism and just all the smells and bells that go along with Catholicism. Having Jesus present in these outward signs is amazing and not to be taken for granted or shoved out completely. I think where I am struggling with this type of statement about spiritual health is that it disregards other in these times of pandemic. That the second commandment that Jesus taught us somehow gets thrown out the window.
Yes spiritual health is important. I am definitely not saying that it's not. But I think in these times its misconstrued. That sense of entitlement that one must have an all access pass at all times to all the sacraments. Perhaps we as a society don't even understand how our sense of individuality has colored how we think of spiritual health. That as long as I am good, then the rest doesn't matter.
God is not a safe God, Yes, we know this. He challenges us to do dangerous things when its for the good of another, and perhaps at times for our own life. Perhaps though, there is somehow something skewed in our American pandemic spiritual health thinking. Is it instead possible to experience God in ways that are unknown to one? That prior to pandemic we became comfortable to having God one way, almost on our terms. Is it possible that we are being called to experience him in different ways right now? To maybe identify with those that don't get to have access to the sacraments daily or weekly or even monthly. Recently, I read a book on the life of Saint Damien of Mokolai. He was unable to participate in the sacrament of confession for long stretches of his life as he served the people of Mokolai. And at one point when he finally saw his superior bring out supplies to the island on which he was serving, he had to scream out his confession to God in another language than those around him knew. He so badly wanted to receive this grace. The one thing though was that he was patient with his circumstances. He knew he was doing hard things, things that were really tough, that his health would deteriorate, but he was doing it for another.
Honestly, its a complicated thing this pandemic. Yes we should be keeping others well being a priority, Jesus said to love one another. There are many facets to what that includes. However, what is our motivation. Is it to make us feel better? Or is it because we really truly want to put another ahead of ourselves? There wasn't as much known about disease spread in earlier centuries. In times like the plague, when Kristin Lavransdatter fictionally existed, she went head first into caring for the sick and burying the dead without any precautions. They just didn't have them. When Saint Damien lived on Mokolai, they didn't have fresh running water so he had to make access, so disease was rampant. Saint Damien didn't risk others lives though, he risked his own. I honestly think that's a big distinction in these pandemic times.
Doctors and dentists and clerks and teachers are risking their own lives for the greater good. But is the person that refuses to change up what they are doing and shouts "I will only live free", are they motivated by Jesus's love? Or are the motivated by there want for a sense of normalcy? Are they just trying to run away from suffering? Suffering is unavoidable, and ultimately it brings us closer to Jesus. When we hear the cries of those downtrodden do we ignore them and say this isn't what it used to be or we are past this, or do we listen and ask what do they need to feel loved?
God is always there, perhaps remembering that can bring you through uncertainty. That in this week of joy in Advent, that maybe our joy is in that we are never alone even if people have abandoned us. That God is there, and perhaps calling us to make sacrifices for him and another, well that again is joy and perhaps we can rise to the occasion, not abandoning our spiritual health, but increasing it.