May 1, 2020

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Lessons worth remembering from the coronavirus pandemic

Patti LambRecently, I spoke with a co-worker by phone since we are currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. After discussing our action items for that day, I mentioned how much I missed her proximity to me. I suppose I had finally recognized how I’ve taken her physical presence for granted, assuming that she’d be at my side each week day—fielding my many questions and always making me laugh. How I miss her good energy.

Before the call ended, I pivoted the conversation from our action item list to our current reality. My co-worker, whom I also consider a friend, is a wise woman. She is a breast cancer survivor who has encountered dark days and leaned into her faith. When I asked her to share some encouraging thoughts to bolster my spirit, her words felt familiar—as if I’d heard them before.

“Whenever I encounter detours in life—or circumstances that feel beyond my control—I ask God, ‘What are you teaching me, Lord?’ ” she said.

Then I remembered that those were the same words she shared with me after receiving her diagnosis years ago.

“What is the lesson I’m supposed to learn here, God?” she asked.

My friend reminded me that, even when we are adults, we never stop learning and we never outgrow encounters with “teachable moments.”

Fast forward to the dinner table that evening. I shared my friend’s question with the family, and we all agreed that the main lesson we learned from this “great pause” is that there are many things we’ve taken for granted.

I surveyed the family and we went around the table—multiple times—sharing those things we miss.

The list was long, so I’ll only share a few:

  • Going to church. Receiving the sacraments.
  • Professional haircuts.
  • Seeing smiles instead of masks.
  • Hanging out with my friends and family.
  • My work family.
  • Hugs, especially the kind Nana gives.
  • Parties and holidays—the kind that aren’t virtual.
  • Going to the gym.
  • Eating out at a restaurant.
  • Playing with the neighbor’s dog.

Our conversation shifted to how these things we’ve been missing are blessings and privileges, and we all have been taking them for “granted.”

When restrictions have been lifted and we hit the reset button, my family agreed that we plan to go about life differently. We hope to proceed with a renewed appreciation for God’s bountiful gifts and with deeper respect for the people by whom God has surrounded us.

I think I’ll stop making statements like, “I have to go to the grocery store and then drag myself to the gym.” Instead, I look forward to the days when I can go to the market and see shelves stocked with plenty of frozen pizza and toilet paper.

There’s a saying that I remembered when the family talked about going forward with more grateful hearts.

“When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.”

I’m sure there are many other lessons in all of this, but the most prevalent takeaway for us is that we are blessed and we hadn’t been doing a very good job of noticing that.

During the pandemic, we made time to huddle around the living room television and watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with microwave popcorn and root beer.

Ferris put it just right when he said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: