Our society has been “Sheltering in Place” for 50+ days. Whatever this term looks like for your family, I know that by this point many of us are simply longing for the slightest sense of normalcy. Whatever that “New Normal” will look like. We just want to hurry and get there. Quarantine has us all drained not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Some days you may have had the free time to talk to God more often and pray or meditate. Other days you may be simply trying your best to juggle the many hats of essential worker, wife, mother, and even teacher, desperately grasping for every opportunity to fill your cup, spiritually speaking. You may feel the longing to go to church. But you can’t. At least not yet.
When I heard that our home parish, Sacred Heart, was pulling together an “Outdoor Mass” I was initially excited, and then later concerned. Doubt began to creep in wondering if this was going to be a safe experience or one that would make my family and I feel as if we had made a mistake.
So, through a little convincing through Facebook Live updates and a whole lot of faith that things would actually go as planned, we decided to pack up our lawn chairs and face masks and head to mass at the park.
Well let me tell you something. It is NEVER a mistake to go to mass. And I’m so glad we did.
I saw a few familiar faces behind masks, and couldn’t help but smile when I saw our parish priests watching with pride as their parishioners walked through the park gate. In fact, it was as if you could see everyone’s smiles as they radiated beyond their masks and through the expression in their eyes.
I felt joy.
My family was respectfully ushered to our “pod” (a large square of the field, denoted by flags, safely 6ft+ from the next family). The temperature was cool in the morning shade. Emotion fluttered through me as I sat there prior to mass starting. One single monarch butterfly flew across the soccer field. Butterflies hold a special place in my heart. Similar to how some are reminded of their deceased loved ones when they see a cardinal; whenever a butterfly flies by I am reminded of my grandmother.
I felt home.
I couldn’t help the tears of joy that went streaming from my eyes and into my mask when the opening hymn began. The readings were so relevant and Father’s homily was hopeful. The whole mass was extraordinary, indeed.
I felt peace.
My oldest daughter was suppose to have had her First Communion the day prior, but, for obvious reasons, has been rescheduled for a later date. But just as I was feeling a bit sad about that, the sun burst through the clouds and was shining brightly in the sky over head. It was as if God’s warmth was wrapping us in a hug and it was time for my husband and I to receive Holy Communion for the first time in two months.
I felt renewed.
If you are feeling a little spiritually lost while sheltering in place, attend your local outdoor mass!
“You who dwell in the shelter of our God,
who abide in this shadow for life,
say to the Lord: ‘My refuge, my Rock in whom I trust!”