Some benefits of this pandemic are that we get to do things that we don’t usually do, like clean closets, go through old notes and papers, spend extra time with our children if we are home schooling them, reach out to friends we haven’t talked with in a while, or do some extra reading.
Well, I have done some of the above, including pulling out some of my storybooks for children. A favorite one of mine is the Russian folk tale Vasalisa and her Magic Doll, by Rita Grauer.
The story is about a young girl, Vasalisa, who loses her mom when she is young and has to grow up with her sister who is very jealous of her. On her death bed, Vasalisa’s mother gives her a small magical doll. As she engages each challenge in her life, she touches the doll who encourages her by saying, “Do what lies before you and all will be well.”
Although the challenges that we have faced during these past 10 weeks are nothing like the ones that Vasalisa faced on her journey to receive the “light,” they are real. Some of us have to take care of elderly parents from afar or long to visit family in nursing facilities and hospitals. How do we handle these difficulties? “Do what lies before you and all will be well.”
Some have to work from home while keeping children focused on their school work and planning entertainment for free time, wondering what fun thing they can do next. Then, perhaps, add in the mix the arrival of a newborn. How do we stay focused and sane? “Do what lies before you and all will be well.”
What about those who have lost jobs and are worrying how to take care of their family? Or, what about those whose businesses have closed and those who are not sure when things change if they will have a job? What about those who have lost loved ones and are looking for some type of closure? “Do what lies before you and all will be well.”
“Do what lies before you and all will be well.” What does that mean? For me, it means that I need to focus on what is before me, be present to the moment, and do what I can at that moment with the time, energy, and wisdom I have. It is taking the “what ifs” out of my vocabulary. If we can stay focused and take one step at a time, it is easier to remain at peace. That is what Jesus gives us. Anxiety can have some awful side effects like unkind words or actions, negative behavior, sarcasm.
As we celebrate the Ascension tomorrow and prepare for the feast of Pentecost, I believe that Jesus left the Apostles the message: “Do what lies before you and all will be well.” Their task was an enormous one. They had to take one day at a time and believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was on the way. They didn’t know the day or the hour, but they could trust that Jesus would fulfill His promise and send the Advocate. Like them, we need to BREATHE and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to remember: “Do what lies before you and all will be well.” We need to trust that the Spirit is with us and we need to continue to pray for the strength the Spirit offers us. Doing what lies before us means that we need to give up controlling our lives. That is a big task, but like Vasalisa, we will find “the light” and bring it to those we are with as long as we continue to “do what lies before you and all will be well.”
Till next week, continue preparing for the gift of the Spirit,
Photo: Sr. Theresita doing what lies before her during the pandemic.