Living life, even on a good day, is hard. Suffering is a non-negotiable component of the human condition. Too many people spend too much of their lives trying to outrun or cover over this reality. This is why people awakening to deeper reality and the spiritual path not only have the courage to embrace their suffering, but they also know the need and have the desire to intentionally practice loving presence. The truth and hope of Easter is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we can come to know a new and risen life (which Christians call Christ), a loving and healing presence living among us, within us and as us. Alleluia! This is Good News indeed!
Yet, living with the various levels of COVID-19 restrictions over the last year and into the foreseeable future has made living life even harder than normal for all of us. Of course there is the virus itself which, when contracted, has been making people very ill, and in too many cases has been fatal. There is the economic suffering that has been widespread, and that has negatively affected every form of business and employment. There is the community suffering. Even when in level 1, the restrictions—to be kept to physical distancing without being able to touch another and draw close in conversation—this is not normal, and we suffer because of it. There is the suffering of families living apart at greater distances and not being able to travel to visit and connect. And there is the collective societal suffering of not knowing what our future will be while not only still working through the pandemic, but also in the long reaching aftereffects. This is just to name some of the areas of our COVID-19 struggling.
Thankfully, in the midst of all this suffering and uncertainty, there is light and hope. And you don’t have to go very far to find it. It is within you. The Easter hope of life in Christ, of life in love, is within you waiting to be discovered or rediscovered, and then lived out of. This larger life of love is your deepest truth and reality—it is your deepest identity. It alone will set you free from your suffering and bring you into the light of a new day filled with new love and hope.
Realizing this hope is best done with the company of others. My friends in the Parish of the Resurrection’s Addictions Recovery Groups regularly refer to the importance of “people, places, and things.” If the company we are keeping, or the places we are going, or the things we are doing are not deepening loving connection and hope, then we need to hang around with new people, in new places, doing new things—whether virtually or in person. A healthy church (and there are healthy churches out there!) that is open to, and is leaning into a deeper love and hope would be worth finding and participating in. It could help bring you more hope and deeper love in a COVID-19 restricted world.