In an op-ed in the Union Tribune this morning, Peter Bolland, who is a Professor of Philosophy at Southwestern College, wrote about his transition to distance learning. His piece, entitled “ My Classroom Is Gone, and Now I’m Grieving Over It,” describes his love of face-to-face classroom teaching and the great loss he is feeling in these times of quarantine. No doubt every single one of our classroom teachers feels the same. Teachers choose this profession because they love children and because they want to make a difference in the lives of their students. However, as teachers in a Catholic school, I doubt few of them have succumbed to the feelings expressed in the following excerpt from Bolland’s article:
“ Now is … not the time for sunny speeches about gratitude, or looking on the bright side, or not giving in to fear. People are raw. People are scared. People are lost. Things are falling apart. Be with that. Let that be true. Move through it with hearts and eyes wide open. We can talk about Phoenix rising from the ashes later. What this is is the great burning down. So know that everyone is hurting. Know that behind the ‘funny’ memes and the brave faces there is confusion, fear, sorrow and grief. We’re all adrift and no one can see the shore.”
Agreed, this pandemic is dreadful, and most of us have never faced the losses and uncertainty we face today. But if we look back in history, we are not the first generation that has endured hardship. Our parents and grandparents lived through deadly wars and the Great Depression. Many around the world experience hunger and poverty unimaginable to first world nations, and trafficking and gang violence is a reality for communities in our country today. As Christians, we know that while God does not impose disaster upon us, thankfully, He always sends people to help us cope with the trials we encounter. These selfless servants are His hands and feet on Earth. Quickly coming to mind are Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who cared for the poor in India, or Blessed Angela Salawa, who worked in hospitals tending to prisoners of war regardless of their nationality during WWI. We have our own heroes among us today, who are at the front lines helping all of us: nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers; grocery store clerks and stockers; truck drivers and those manufacturing needed goods; farmers and restaurant workers manning delivery or the pick-up of meals for our tables. They greet us with smiles and compassion, they give us hope, and for their generosity we are eternally grateful.
Next week the Church celebrates Holy Week, a time when we follow Jesus’ journey to the cross and His ultimate crucifixion and death. Yet, as Christians, we do not allow ourselves to get stuck in the despair of Good Friday. We are a Resurrection people, a people of hope, even in the darkest of hours. Yes, we have to experience Good Friday, but we do so with the confidence that Christ indeed rose from the dead; He will always be with us in our darkest days; and He will lead us ultimately to joy.