Hope: The Way Forward

All around the world, countries are beginning to reopen after home quarantine and lockdowns. In Singapore, the Circuit Breaker was lifted on 2 June. Many of us have returned to school and work. Others continue to learn or work from home. With more services and shops opened, everyday life is returning to normal slowly.

At this time we are all adjusting to a different way of living and interacting, working and studying, and with the safety precautions in place and the do’s and don’ts still regulating much of everyday life. This is being called the ‘new normal’ of how we will go about life after the pandemic.

As this happens, I notice that many people are beginning to have a palpable sense that these times, they are a-changing. Things are getting better. Life can carry on. It is possible to look ahead. It is possible to begin believing that the pandemic will be behind us one day.

What gives those who look ahead like this the confidence to do so? Yes, the reports in Singapore and around the world still record confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. Yes, the restrictions continue and our interactions are regulated. Yes, we still await for Masses to resume in Singapore. Yet this feeling prevails. How come?

As people of faith, it has something to do, I’d like to suggest, with how we understand God’s actions in difficult moments. It is not that God is present. God is, but God is doing so much more. We have all experienced God’s saving actions in how we care and we are cared for. These should remind us that God is faithful and gracious with us. An expression of this is how God allows us — in faith — to see life from His perspective. With eyes of faith, we recognize how hard and difficult our present time is but it is also hope-filled.

God’s perspective allows us to acknowledge that there is indeed pain and sadness and to understand that these are part of life. Life is however also hope-filled. Its rhythm of change, like night turning into day and winter into spring, like injury into healing and destruction into reconstruction, reminds us we can hope. We can because there is indeed a time for everything.

Shemaiah Gonzalez’s reflection, “Finding God in Sunshine” echoes some of these points. Let us read and reflect:

Winter has been dark in the Pacific Northwest. One begins to get the feeling that the sun has forgotten to rise in the morning or the morning before this one. There are days when I’ve used my headlights the entire day as I’ve driven around the city running errands. I’ve begun to lose my sense of time, as I cannot find the sun in the sky behind the thick rain and cloud cover. And since the sun rises at 8 a.m. and sets during the 4 o’clock hour (really, look it up), the days begin to meld into one another, becoming one long night. Darkness can affect our mood, our disposition, our ability to find firm footing.

And then.

Sometimes the waters that surround Seattle shift and move the clouds, until they separate to reveal a sliver of blue sky, and then the sunshine will slice through, blinding. An entire city moves toward their windows. Plants lean toward the light. Storekeepers put on sunglasses and step out to the sidewalk. Mothers hold their babies to nursery windows to bask in the glow of the sun. Cats find where the path of light falls best, yawn, and stretch to nap in its rays.

And me? I raise my face towards the radiance. My eyes aren’t used to the intensity. I close them and consider the blend of reds, oranges, and golds through my eyelids. I feel the heat of its brilliance against my cheeks.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us (Psalm 67:1).

I needed this light. I’m lost without it.

I can’t help but ponder all the metaphors for God as light. How much I need him to guide my way. How God’s presence helps me grow in faith and as the person he created me to be. How I can see more clearly when I trust in him.

The lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, “Be Thou My Vision,” come to mind, and I can’t help but sing:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Then, the sun shower ends as abruptly as it began. The clouds close. The sun is again hidden. It is dark again.

And yet, my mood is not. I still feel the warmth of the light on my skin, and I know which step to take next.

I know which step to take next. I find this conclusion to Shemaiah’s reflection consoling and comforting. It is hopeful. It strikes me that if we allow ourselves to see life from God’s perspective, all that we are now doing to reopen our communities and to return to everyday life takes on a different, more hope-filled point of view. This week, I am inviting us to consider this change in perspective. To see from God’s point of view. Let’s consider these questions to help us do this in prayer and reflection:

a) How do you feel about the Circuit Breaker ending and our return in stages to everyday life? What adjective sums up your feelings?

b) If you could stand beside God and look down on the earth, what would you see now that gives you confidence that humankind will live and interact differently? What would you say to God about your observations, especially those that give you hope?

c) “I know which step to take next.” During the Circuit Breaker, all have experienced God’s grace working to transform us. As a person with SSA, how would you describe the effects of God’s grace in your life? In what ways do these help you “know which step to take next” with God, especially as you and I return to everyday life with our familiar habits and usual choices?

Words to Encourage

 “I plead with you – never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” – St. John Paul II

Let us pray that we continue to let God lead us onward at this time. The journey is His; He calls us to his companions. The ministry is His; He calls us to join him to bring about God’s reign. Let us make this journey and do this ministry with God in faith, hope and charity.