The COVID-19 virus presents us with a situation on an epic scale which many of us have never experienced before; countries closing off their borders, grounding flights, suspending public worship, implementing safe distancing measures, and many others.
We see how individuals respond to fear and uncertainty, wiping out supermarket shelves and hoarding food and toilet paper. We also find ourselves constantly comparing the current pandemic with past episodes, and thinking about the future (when will it stop, how will our lives change, etc).
This leads me to wonder, could our reactions arise from our restlessness and preoccupation with the past and future, so much so that we lose sight of living our lives right now?
In such trying times, we can lament and complain about all the inconveniences and disruptions that the virus has brought to our lives, or we can choose to live in the present moment like Ms Sujatha Selvakumar, who “started volunteering because [she] wanted to effect change in [her] immediate community spaces”, rather than complain and miss out on the chance to make a difference.
Like Ms Sujatha Selvakumar, God offers us plausible ways to make a difference if we choose to live in the present moment. We can become fully present to the people we encounter, and also more acutely aware of God’s presence and love in action – shown through the many acts of service, sacrifice, kindness, and generosity by the community (e.g., healthcare workers, social service workers). We can then share that love with others, especially the poor and vulnerable amongst us. Peace, gratitude, and joy will eventually begin to permeate our day.
Lastly, let us not forget to bring all our past and future worries in prayer to God who revealed Himself as “I Am Who Am” (Exodus 3:14). God lives in the eternal present, and invites us to dwell with him right here, right now.
Prayer for the Present Moment (Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, by Saint Sister M. Faustina Kowalska, #2)
Oh my God,
When I look into the future, I am frightened,
but why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me.
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power to change, correct, or add to the past;
for neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
you grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.So, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
offering You each day this heart
burning with love for Your greater glory.
Jacob Soo is the Formation and Membership Executive at Caritas Singapore, and serves at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. He finds joy in strong cups of black coffee, Catholic spirituality books, and conversations on the faith.