Cecilia needed to make a trip to Rochester, MN recently. And like most places in the Midwest, summer in Minnesota is also known as Road Construction season, so Cecilia was not surprised to find out that the route she planned to take required a detour to avoid road construction. She WAS surprised when she took a wrong turn along said detour and found herself lost in the Bermuda Triangle of Eastern Minnesota. Rather than fret about the mistake and the delay, she got new directions and decided to enjoy the “scenic” route. She even stopped to take some pictures along the way.
Her story seems like an appropriate analogy for our individual and collective experience of 2020 so far. It feels like we took a very wrong turn somewhere along the road of life and found ourselves in the Bermuda Triangle of life known as COVID-19. Here at St. Anthony’s, the past four months have been surreal. Sometimes it felt like we were walking in circles and getting nowhere. (To be fair, sometimes we really WERE walking in circles, around the cloister hall, just to get some exercise.) Nothing felt familiar. Landmarks like weekend retreats and daily or weekly routines were gone; familiar faces were absent. One day looked just like the next and it was hard to remember what day it really was sometimes.
Even as we start to get back on track toward something more closely resembling normal, things look different. Fr. Bob and Lori are gone, and with them a little piece of each of us. Tables and chairs have been rearranged in all the large gathering spaces. Doors are locked even with staff and guests in the house to keep everyone safe from unexpected visitors. We are all getting used to wearing masks and trying to be very conscious of our physical distancing. Everything seems to take longer because nothing is automatic, nothing is taken for granted, and everything must re-evaluated in light of “best and safest” practices.
We could choose to fret over all the changes and the lack of normalcy. Or we can choose to try and enjoy the “scenic route” of a slower pace, quieter space and fewer guests. We can hold on to and enjoy memories of a friend lost and another who has moved on along a different road. We can appreciate the time we have to spend with our guests rather than take their presence with us for granted. We can be grateful for the opportunity to re-examine our priorities and focus on what is most important.
One day, hopefully soon, we will find our way through the Bermuda Triangle of life’s detour and get back on the “main road”, but for now we will enjoy the scenery. For the new perspectives and the lessons learned, we say Deo Gratis!