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COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Time and Space Are Wonderful Gifts

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Father David BonnarEven long after we graduate from school, at whatever level, the learning continues. Life presents many classrooms, each day, filled with endless possibilities and discoveries. These moments enable us as human beings to live and learn and to learn and live.

The coronavirus pandemic has produced many classrooms from which to be educated. There is not enough time in this space to enumerate them all. But let’s begin with the realities of time and space. I think these last few weeks have really brought into focus time and space.

Time keeps moving forward. The clock never stops running. Only God knows how much time we have left in the bank. In spite of the watches on our wrists and the clocks that adorn our walls, none of us can control time. We cannot rewind or fast forward time. While we may try to “buy time,” “waste time,” seek “overtime” or ask for a “time out,” we all are at the mercy of time. It is never our time; it is God’s time.

Right now much of our angst is about time. We think of the times we had to postpone and fear the times we may not have. We wonder how much longer we will have to endure this unprecedented time. As much as we want this time to be over, this moment has afforded us all more time. How are you spending your time?

After adjusting to this new normal, I find that there is more time for prayer, rest, exercise and leisure. As frustrating and as inconvenient as this current time is, it nonetheless can be a gift for all of us. The lesson I believe is to behold this time, to embrace it and be grateful. We cannot lose sight that some of the hardest of times when looked upon in hindsight become the best of times. Tough times produce tough people.

Another concept that is so much more real in this time is space. Has there ever been a time in recent memory when we have been so conscious of our space? We know where we are and where we are not. We also are ever mindful of those who are near us.

We all have observed a new term that has become part of every language across the world — namely, “social distancing.” The whole idea here is to keep a “safe distance” so as to stop the spread of the virus. The experts tell us it is working to help mitigate the contagion. People are responding. In fact, I have watched runners upon seeing a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk run out onto the street to social distance.

As successful as social distancing has been, I think we can all appreciate how unnatural it is for us human beings, who are meant to live in community. We are people who are created to bond whether we are in a family, a crowd, at a meeting or in a church. Right now, however, we need to be mindful of our space and trust that this separation from one another is, as they say, a “temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.”

There is one other very important consideration. Perhaps the real lesson in this school of suffering is to give more of our time and space to God in prayer where we live and learn and learn and live. Indeed, time and space are wonderful gifts that none of us can afford to take for granted.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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