Are you sick and tired, worn out from carrying heavy burdens?
Come to me and I will give you rest.
-Jesus (Matthew 11: 28)
By Ginny Schaeffer, Director of the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality
“Girls! I am sick and tired…” were five words my sisters and I dreaded hearing coming from our mother. We knew immediately that we had crossed a line that could not be uncrossed and the piper would be paid.
If you are anything like me, you too might be experiencing days when it is all just too much and there are times when you are sick and tired of hearing the daily statistics of those newly infected and killed by the Coronavirus but do so anyway because each number is a person and family who is suffering. Perhaps you want to plug your ears and cover your eyes and not hear one more story about white privilege and police brutality. Like me, you may not want to face the reality of economic inequity that has burst open like the festered wound it has been. Then there is the planet…The. Planet. Great ice shelves continue to melt and float away in the sea while freak storms decimate millions of acres of nearly-ripened corn, wildfires are burning out of control out West and two hurricanes have formed in the Gulf of Mexico in one week.
Some days I wish I could be like the proverbial ostrich that buries her head in the sand. I just want to go back to living my virus-free, unawakened life. Is that really too much to ask?!
It also seems we are in this for the long haul. We have already been at it for months, years, decades and centuries, depending on which crisis we are speaking of at the moment. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for any of the four crises we are facing. It would be very easy to throw up our hands and give into the weight of it all. Despair, fear and helplessness are easy pits to fall into, especially when we forget that it was never the intention of the Creator that we go it alone.
How do we get through such times as these? How do we face the reality of our lives, families, communities, and the world without becoming overwhelmed and slide into hopelessness? What is needed to come through this season of trial and fire? Is it possible, even imaginable that we are able to emerge from this dark season more of our true selves, with a deeper experience and understanding of God, our selves, others and the cosmos than before?
Spiritual resilience is described by Robert J. Wicks as just that, the ability to recover from adversity “in a way that deeper knowledge of God and self may result… a unique opportunity to nurture our relationship with God and enable it [and us] to grow in surprising ways.”
Perhaps you, or someone you know, has been deeply wounded in life, has gone through extended periods of stress, experienced great loss or trauma; yet, having emerged from it, they are not hardened, bitter or cynical. Instead, they are somehow transformed, they are more understanding and accepting of self and others, more compassionate, even joyful.
Such is the grace of spiritual and psychological resilience (yes, they do go hand-in-hand). Such is the promise of God who loves us more than we can imagine and promises not to abandon us. Such is the promise of Christ who invites us to come with our heavy burdens and find rest and renewal.
During the next year, the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality will focus on spiritual resilience through its programs and prayer opportunities. We will explore what it is and how we can be open to receive it and how to nurture it in our daily lives. Some of the topics will include: living contemplatively in a time of crisis, embracing suffering (a.k.a, “take up your cross…”), praying our pain, the lost art of lamenting, gratitude, letting go of attachments, resting rather than just escaping, transformation, peace and joy, compassionate service and others. It is our hope and prayer that this focus will be of service to you, and to the greater community, as we move towards a new normal of God’s ultimate reality right here, right now.
 Robert J. Wicks, Spiritual Resilience: 30 Days to Refresh Your Soul (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2015),