Walking together in the Spirit

In the current climate of social distancing, the idea of walking together may seem counterintuitive. These past months, COVID-19 has profoundly disrupted our sense of order, certainty and direction. More than ever, each one of us is learning to adapt to a new normal — for however long it lasts. In our homes, neighborhoods, cities and world, we are doing our best to be faithful to the moral and social responsibility that comes with health directives: washing hands more frequently, keeping appropriate physical distance, wearing masks, testing or monitoring for illness and sterilizing shared spaces.

While the physical demands of this health crisis are quite visible and tangible, there are also other difficulties that are less noticeable to the general public. These are the spiritual, psychological and emotional adjustments resting at the core of our lives. From conversations with family, friends and colleagues, we know that the impact of the pandemic isn’t the same for everyone. There is anxiety, fear, uncertainty, disorientation, despair and death. In some communities, the impact reveals alarming health and economic disparities. We can point to the most vulnerable and poor in our society and see the devastating consequences of this coronavirus.

Yet, our walk together also reveals something more than a tragic sense of life. In many ways, we are witness to an ever-growing resilience. The initial disruptions bring forth new creative energies in the way we are reaching and connecting to each other. Through social media and new technologies, we are finding deeper personal, social and global connections. Perhaps more than ever, the ordinary events and rituals of our lives are now becoming virtual expressions giving us hope and meaningful memories.

Originally, disorientation and uncertainty left us fearful. We are now finding firm direction and clarity in our commitment to compassion and solidarity. Far from being paralyzed by this overwhelming and unprecedented health reality, the human spirit is bouncing back with great flexibility, determination and sacrifice. While challenges are far from over, it is inspiring to see the personal and collective sacrifices that are being made for the well-being of others and the common good.

Together, we are discovering ways to keep moving forward with confidence and grace. As a people of faith, we recognize that the much of the inspiration and resilience we share is rooted in the care and love that comes from God: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear. The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27). In fact, our walk these past months has shown us how closely we are united to God’s grace, love and life in Christ Jesus (John 3:16-18).

Ours has been a faith walk taking us from Lenten mourning to Resurrection hope, and all the way to the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit! In the midst of our ongoing challenges, struggles, hopes and joy, we have discovered that our walk in the Spirit of truth and life is never an isolated, private or fearful experience. Rather it is one that takes us confidently to the ends of the world. In faith, our walk and cadence has found renewed meaning and missionary purpose: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations … and teach them to observe all the commandments I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:18-20).

F. Javier Orozco

First published June 11, 2020 in the St. Louis Review