And so I am back after a long hiatus from writing and contributing to the Magis Deo Newsletter. One text message from Cesar Sangalang made me turn around. It was a reminder on the value of community involvement given the circumstances. As if living is not complicated enough, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everything I know as normal and manageable.
Suddenly, distance and physical space took on a whole new meaning. Facts and information need to be verified and validated by critically examining the source and the intent of its authors before sharing them to the public. Divisions among people and culture have all been magnified and gaps appear to grow wider as science and technology push for cures and solutions to this virus as well as the illnesses that malign society today. To hear news from the Inter-agency Task Force every day does not help alleviate anxieties and fears in a time of uncertainty and unprecedented change. School campuses remain close but there is a need to continue learning most especially at home and from home. We all find ourselves in this predicament. But, strive we must to survive. And it is in the struggle where we thrive and find grace.
Take for example the basic health protocol of frequent hand washing, the observance of social distancing and the wearing of mask when going out. It all sounds simple to do but these health practices require generosity and kindness from each of us. It is about personal care, interior freedom and the challenge to continuously “be”. This is the call of the time and the teaching of Ignatius no less.
Of the three health guidelines, it is the wearing of masks that fascinates me to no end. Wearing a surgical mask, we protect ourselves from the coronavirus and those we get in contact with. Wearing a mask pre-COVID-19, however, had a different meaning. In the Marriage Encounter experience, wearing a mask is an act that prevents us from being authentic and real, but now it is considered an act of love. What remains as constant is God’s call to continue building a relationship with Him with or without a mask. Because our ways of loving differ from one another, the response to the call of nurturing this relationship varies too.
In my quest to find a quiet and scared space to be with God, I discovered Fall in Love, a poem by Fr. Pedro Arrupe.
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than
Falling in love
In a quiet absolute, final way
What are you in love with
What seizes your imagination, will
It will decide
What will get you out of bed in the
What you do with your evenings,
How you spend your weekends
What you read, whom you know,
What breaks your heart,
What amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love
And it will decide everything.
This poem helps me work through the Examen as I reflect on my desires and the grace asked and received especially in this time of pandemic.