In times of anxiety and grief, it sometimes helps to get involved in projects that are larger than we are, that call on our creativity and ignite our authentic response to God’s love for us. It helps to spend ourselves — our time, our skill, and our money.
In the time of Covid, most of us to some degree are circling the drain of depression. And while we are currently limited in how we can get out into the world, we still have plenty we can do for others. You’ve probably already discovered many larger-than-ego projects: purchasing things that help the folks who are suffering most (the same folks who always suffer most); out and out donating money, food, and clothing; volunteering; visiting the homebound, and so on.
Oh, but we need to remember that depression will try to talk us out of doing anything. It will put up roadblocks in our thinking, so that we feel helpless. Like the disciples in today’s Gospel story, we’ll sit in the boat watching Peter stumble his way toward Jesus through the wind and broiling waves and tell ourselves all the reasons we can’t possibly go out there, too.
This is a time when being willing to fail is essential. Who knows what will work, these days? We have to try things. Following our hearts to see what seems important and do-able and then doing it changes the focus from “me” to “us” — always helpful in times of isolation and fear.
And let’s not forget the other, key necessity. We have to pray. Like Peter when he felt himself sinking beneath the waves, the utterance on our lips ought to be, “Lord, save me.” Again this changes the focus from “me” to “us’ — in this case an “us” that exists between each of us and God.
The things we choose to do may not make us happy. We may not know how successful our projects are. We may or may not feel God at work through us. And there will be times when our giving feels like a huge imposition on our own well-being. In out-and-out giving, there are no strings attached. It’s just us throwing ourselves away.
But it IS us throwing ourselves away — out on the waves, our focus on Christ, trying not to notice how fierce the wind is becoming. And when failure comes, we pray, “Lord, save me.” This is our fundamental prayer, probably the one we should be praying in any case, whether we succeed or we fail.
O Holy tamer of waves and wind, help us discern what you long for from us. Get us out of the boat and out on the waves. Help us remember to reach out to you. Lord, save us.
Image: By After Giotto di Bondone – Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15461539
Laurie Gudim is a spiritual director, writer and religious iconographer. Her home is in Fort Collins, CO. Learn a little more about her at her website: www.everydaymysteries.com or visit her parish at www.stpauls-fc.org.