Weekly Practice: Rule of Life

Greetings from the future! But also, the past.

Here in California we’re a calendar day behind you, but a week further into lockdown. At this point the novelty’s worn off, the news worsens, and crisis and uncertainty seem to be our new companions.

So, what keeps us going? How do we process all of this? And how do we find (and make and be) the good in this situation?

Throughout Lent, I’ve been doing Bishop Robert Barron’s morning reflections. On 19 March, a few days into our lockdown, Bishop Barron reflected on the life of St Joseph, and how his was a life filled with crisis: a pregnant fiancée (with a child that wasn’t his!), fleeing to a foreign country with his wife and a baby, and losing his 12-year-old son on a family trip. And yet, Barron notes, in the face of all of this heartbreak, fear and anxiety, Joseph read what was happening to him as a “theo-drama” and not as an “ego-drama”. Barron then asks,

“Think of the last crisis you encountered. Did you handle it as part of a theo-drama (God’s plans and purposes) or as part of an ego-drama (your own plans and purposes)? Reflect on the differences between these two perspectives and how each one shapes your attitudes and behaviour.”


A little close to home there, Bishop.

I’m trying to handle Covid-19 as part of a theo-drama: understanding what is happening in the context of God’s providence, listening for what God is commanding of me and my family, and trusting in the purposes of God.

In case it’s helpful to you, here’s some of the practical ways I’ve found of going about this:

Shower every day. You may feel like there’s no need, but do it anyway – it’s surprising how normal it can make you feel.

Pray. We start each morning with a decade of the rosary, naming our special intentions for the day. It’s a great way to connect with God, to discern where we’re being called, and to be close to all those we can’t currently see in person. If you’re not a rosary person, there are other options to get you in that prayer space: an Our Father, a reading from the Bible or a book of reflections, or a prayer you write or come up with yourself.

Give yourself permission to grieve. We’d been plugging away at this lockdown thing for two weeks, with grief at what we’d lost niggling at the margins of our consciousnesses. It felt wrong to give way to this grief when so many others were suffering so much more. But when we made space to grieve, it was a relief – to name what we’ve lost, to cry, and to embrace each other. Grieving doesn’t mean you don’t know how lucky you are, and it doesn’t belittle what others are going through.

Get outside. A great thing about lockdown is that we’re all suddenly a lot less busy. It’s a beautiful Creation out there, and now you have the chance to enjoy it, with fewer cars! Walk and wave to neighbours you never knew because suddenly everyone’s outside, and everyone’s very friendly.

Sometimes you need a circuit break, and that’s ok. Waffles for dinner – completely acceptable. A picnic on your lawn – totally fine. Last week we made Thursday into Saturday (meaning no school work), and moved Thursday’s work to Saturday. It’s a crazy time, and sometimes you’ve got to lean into the crazy to stay sane.

Look for the theo-drama. See the exposure of our weaknesses, our attachments, our oversights. See the elevation of our care and our ability to sacrifice. Feel our need for relationship, and our ingenuity in finding ways of being together while being apart. God’s always calling us – perhaps, with a lot less noise around us, we’ll hear something we’ve never heard before.

Though an ocean away, we’re with you. Though apart, we’ll all get through this together.

And, really, take a shower. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all.