In a Time of Uncertainty...

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
Mary Oliver
We human beings are attempting to navigate unchartered waters. Expressions like social distancing and shelter in place have entered into our everyday conversation overnight. Neither coveys the reality of living the conditions the two expressions describe.  We are not distant from the reality of the pandemic unless we have cut ourselves off from all media. While I may limit my intake of news, I am conscious of the tragedy unfolding across our common home.
I find myself thinking of Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life and I wonder do they still hold as we try and live this new normal.
Maybe my memory is off, but I do recall feeling equally befuddled in the immediate aftermath of 911.  How did I get through that? How did those of us who remember that moment manage?
I paid attention to the people whom I love, and they paid attention to me.  I tried to be mindful of my colleagues.  I was a Head of School then. I remember wanting the children and young people to have hope in the future, even as many were saying life would never be the same.  I recall many conversations with parents who were so worried that life would never be blessed again.  Fear and anxiety were often the initial response to the news as it emerged.
How did we get beyond the shock and the sadness? I believe that it was astonishment that saved us-astonishment evoked by the laughter of children, the amazement of someone’s expression of gratitude for a simple act of kindness, the excitement of knowing that we still could and did communicate affection.  Confidence and hope emerged as we shared our stories with one another of coping and managing the new normal.
I offer Mary Oliver’s advice to us now…. Pay attention…Be astonished…Tell about it.  Perhaps the gift of google hangouts, zoom and all the technology might just be that these are very extraordinary, unprecedented ways we can now share our hope.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.