My, how the world has changed in recent weeks. We’ve gone from praying for people in China effected by this virus to becoming among those people who need prayer. From stores of plenty to bare shelves. From school and work to a new term, “shelter at home”.
And yet, most of what we need to survive this pandemic, we learned in Kindergarten.
- Wash your hands. I remember my mom, holding my hands in hers, rubbing the soap over and over, singing “Happy Birthday.” That’s how long you need to wash your hand for it to be effective. Something that I learned at home, but also remember teachers, like Miss Lolly, instructing us.
- Share with your neighbor. When I was in kindergarten, we didn’t bring our own supplies, so there was a lot of sharing going on. If you had the green crayon and your neighbor needed it, you were to finish quickly and share it. No one could hold any more crayons in their hand than just the one they were coloring with. This way everyone had a chance to use them all. In other words, no hoarding!
- Take turns. One of my favorite jobs in Kindergarten was to hold the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an honor usually given to whomever had a birthday that day. Since my birthday was in the summer, I was assigned a special day to hold it. Same with running errands to the office, feeding the class pet (we had a lizard named Larry) and other tasks the teacher would assign us. We took turns and included everyone.
- Be kind to one another. We had to speak kindly of each other. If you had a problem with someone, that was alright. But no name calling or talking down to others about the person. Boy, our nation could certainly use that one right now.
- Help those that couldn’t help themselves. We had several special needs children in our class. Some had physical challenges and some mental. But we all took turns helping them. One of the girls couldn’t reach the sink (handicap sinks were unheard of back then), so we took turns pouring water over her hands when she washed them. One boy was very slow at learning and I can remember reading with him at a slower pace.
There were many more lessons we learned as children that would help us greatly during this crisis. There are also lessons to be learned from our older generation; those who survived the great depression and WWII. We can learn a great deal from them on conservation and rationing.
And, what if it does get worse, as it predicted to do? What of our spiritual well being? Daily Masses and other church services are springing up Live on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of media. Online Rosary and Lectio Divina are just a few of the ways to stay connected while we stay at home. While we need to care for our bodies, mentally and physically, our spiritual health is just as important.
The reading this morning from Liturgy of the Hours, is from Isaiah 1:16-18:
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.
Not only in times of trial, but every day, we should be “washing ourselves clean” through the sacrament of reconciliation. Here is the prayer we use when we gather for Mass:
I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore, I ask the blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angel and Saints, and to you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.
The Bible has the best advice on how to survive any type of crisis. In Mark 12, we find Jesus speaking to a young scribe who asked him, “Which commandment is first of all?”
Jesus answered him, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord, our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, keep calm. Wash your hands. Stay six feet away. Share what you have and stretch things, so they last longer. Remember what we learned in Kindergarten…and most of all, remember the one who holds your very soul in the palm of his hand.
For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?
Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)
Christe, Eleison (Christ, Have Mercy)
Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)