As dawn replaces darkness in Chicago and lake effect clouds rise, patrons stand on cold pavement six feet apart to order hot coffee along quasi-empty streets with boarded-up businesses. The wind bites customers who shiver as they stand waiting under the gloomy sky. What do they recall about this time last year? What has changed?
Filled with nostalgia, memories may surface of bustling commerce and camaraderie—the simple enjoyments of life prior to COVID19. Then we lived with some predictability, although our sensitivities were numbed by expectations entrenched in the social constructs of yesteryear. We had hoped a new era would be more kind, just, equitable and inclusive, but life changed unexpectedly. An invisible enemy destroyed normalcy. Forced to separate, isolate, quarantine, and trace contacts, an unknown adversary began to shatter families, relationships, and communities, forcing us to acknowledge our vulnerability. Swiftly, security morphed into insecurity and anxiety, heightened by fear of the deadly danger. Modern society is neither the first nor will be the last to respond to such a challenge. Nevertheless, uncertainty and dread have bred inescapable apprehension.
“There is nothing that bothers me more than uncertainty,” acknowledged Vincent de Paul, who was keenly aware of the unpredictability of life changing events and their impact on individuals and families.(1) Louise de Marillac encountered victims of the plague in France, prompting her to advise the Daughters of Charity to “take good care of yourself amid the great dangers.”(2) She imposed travel restrictions in one town and reported that the Sisters there had “stopped the visiting of the sick and the schools.”(3)
As a Vincentian community gathered for the sake of the mission, we are called to care for one another and ourselves. In order to overcome quarantine fatigue, “we must go forward without becoming discouraged.”(4) We need to acknowledge our current reality of living during a global pandemic. Louise knew the value of self-care: “I have great need of a few days to think about myself and be renewed.”(5) As those patrons who sip their morning coffee and savor the aroma, recall Vincentian wisdom: “Take good care of your health.”(6) “Health is the most precious treasure of life.”(7)
Take care of yourself. Take care of one another. Take Care DePaul!
- How do I respond when dark clouds besiege my life?
- What enables me to summon the courage to go forward?
- What must I do for optimum self-care, or to be renewed?
1) 175, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, CCD, 1:240.
2) 411, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, 12 [December] 1639, CCD, 1:595-6.
4) 1307, Vincent de Paul to René Alméras, (3 January 1651), CCD, 138-40.
5) L.4, Louise de Marillac to Vincent de Paul, 4 September c. 1634, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 10.
6) 411, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, 12 [December] 1639, CCD, 1:595-6.
7) A.92, (On the Duties of the Motherhouse), Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 810.
Reflection by Sr. Betty Ann