Saturday night we would have gone to Mass, as per usual. Then, on Sunday, we would have been on the road to see Dear Evan Hansen, which my girls and I had been looking forward to for months.
Those were the plans. Before everything started to shift.
At a certain point, when a few things had been canceled and toilet paper was getting scarce, I knew I'd have to be the bad guy, the one who suggested that we not go to an event as packed as a Broadway show. Not a wise move for a family with people in high-risk categories. But just a couple of days after I had that thought, the theater canceled the Dear Evan Hansen run. I didn't have to be the bad guy. The virus is the bad guy.
So here we all are, hunkered down together, working from home, teaching from home, taking French class from home. Nothing feels normal (as I know you all know.)
What did the past weekend look like instead of Broadway and Mass?
Well, I worked, of course. (I feel lucky to already work from home. I will never take it for granted again.) I'm in the midst of The Writer's Jungle Online, one of the Brave Writer classes I teach. (I'll be teaching another one in April. The writing must go on!) I listened to a talk by a priest I'm working with on a book. I mailed some essentials to a friend. I walked the dog. We had to call a plumber on Saturday morning because a bundle of roots somewhere out there chose this weekend to cause a back-up in the bathroom. I turned to God, Atticus, and podcasts whenever I was feeling too anxious. My daughters baked a gluten-free chocolate cake. We had an art session together, and watched an episode of Gilmore Girls.
Because all public Masses have been canceled, we were home on Sunday. It's a sacrifice to not be able to receive the Eucharist, but the Church absolutely made the right decision in light of this public health crisis. And it's a sacrifice that I willingly make for my daughter, my parents, and so many other people who fall into vulnerable categories. (I don't want to become a silent carrier. What if I am right now?) "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." And I will willingly lay down my own spiritual comfort and the sustenance I receive from the Eucharist for the sake of my daughter and others.
(I keep forgetting that technically at our ages Atticus and I also fall into the "Stay home, you're vulnerable" category. I'd like to think that his half-marathons and my efforts to take care of myself put us in the "strong, healthy" category, but who knows?)
So, on Sunday we all gathered around the kitchen table and Atticus read the Mass readings for the fourth Sunday of Lent to us. John 9:1-41 is the story of the man born blind. I've written before about the significance of this story for Atticus and me. And as he was reading, he choked up, and couldn't quite finish. Anne-with-an-e took over the reading.
"One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
I was a little breathless at the scene before me. My husband, filled with gratitude for the gift of his faith, our eldest daughter stepping in to read a wondrous bit of beauty for her dad.
Then I reminded our girls that before his conversion, their father had thought that he'd like to take the name of the man born blind as his Confirmation name. I don't think anyone spoke for a moment.
Then I was in tears. So many memories flooding over me, so much beauty and so much pain over the years of our marriage, our conversions, our commitments and re-commitments to one another, our newfound commitments to a God who was once a stranger to us both.
And so, on this Sunday, when church buildings everywhere were closed, God lavished graces on five little people sitting around a kitchen table in a small town in Nebraska.
"The Gospel of the Lord," says the priest.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, the people reply.