In the wake of Covid, what remains?

Cheryl Glassman, St. Nicolas of Myra
Cheryl Glassman

What a year we have seen! 2020 has surely created new avenues for us to travel. As we have woven through the effects of (hard to imagine) a pandemic, I am led to the following questions – how has Covid-19 changed our relationships with others? How well are we coping? Is there really hope?

I remember when we first heard the news about Covid-19. People were talking about it a little, but not overly concerned. Then the next thing I knew church services were being canceled. We couldn’t go anywhere; schools were closed.

In the beginning, it seemed like a good rest period; however, as things progressed and we had cleaned or talked about just about everything and anything, we started to realize it was serious! Air travel was canceled, families were unable to see one another, and hospitals and retirement homes were closed to visitors. That’s when it hit me – when – or will I ever get to see some of my family again? 

Social media has been quite an interesting device during the pandemic. Although it has truly been a mental lifesaver to be able to converse virtually and Facetime, I have witnessed many people expressing their anger and frustration. Some would be upset and think social media is not the place to air grievances. But when you are isolated, maybe all alone, no work, no income, there has to be an outlet. The problem is one person’s frustration sometimes can lead to others ganging up on that person. Anger spills out. Friendships have been ended.

But, as pandemic existence has evolved, and we are slowing emerging from our Covid shell, it seems people have come to understand the importance of two things – hope and God. Have you looked on a social media site lately? People (including myself) are asking others to pray for one another. And guess what? They DO! Churches are livestreaming and people are watching – and talking about it! If someone puts something sad on a site like Facebook, people join together, offering condolences, prayers, financial support. If there is a positive statement about someone, people also join together to congratulate and share virtual smiles and hugs!

Also – when I go to the grocery store to buy my or my dad’s groceries – people say, “Excuse me,” or “Sorry if I’m in the way,” or “Thanks.” And the really cool thing? I can see people smile even though they are wearing a mask!

So are we “coping?” To “cope” (I do love definitions) means to “deal with something difficult.” As we move forward through the season of Lent (from the Latin Quadragesima, meaning “Fortieth”) I think of how our Lord and Savior was coping with his situation. There were lepers and other illnesses. There were angry mobs and frightened, discouraged people, living in fear and frustration. It seems times have not really changed that much.

What HAS changed is what our loving God did for us – he gave us his only Son to love, guide, and teach us. Christ taught us how to be kind, and to pray. When times get tough, as they might be for a while, or will again, we must turn to our loving God. As it says so simply in Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call upon him.” Yes! He is! In good times and in bad. 

When we are separated from loved ones; When friendships falter and crumble; When we are frustrated and - when we experience joy; God is always near. So then – there is hope?

In the Bible, “hope” is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. This leads to one of my favorite Bible verses of all: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not YET have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24-25).

We will continue to be tested. Relationships will change or be stronger; some will end. But through it all, God, faith, love, and hope remain. We can breathe a small sigh of relief – and see the smile through the mask.

Cheryl Glassman is the music director at St. Nicolas of Myra Catholic Church in Hays.