Becky had a wonderful idea for us this weekend.  Our church has been cancelled but they have pre-recorded mass for the next few weeks.  The idea Becky had was to “go to church” as a family this weekend – at home.  We decided to do it this morning after we’d all woken up and showered.  She brought up the yoga mats (for kneeling) and fired up YouTube.

Talk about one of the most surreal and bittersweet experiences of this entire situation.  A part of me was thankful for the feeling of routine.  Another part of me felt ripped apart and empty.  I had no idea just how much the impact of being in a church full of of others really had on me as opposed to watching solo.  When church first started I could feel my eyes well up a bit as the realization of just how different life will be for a while started to truly sink in.  There were a couple of times I had to steady my voice as it almost cracked from the sudden and immense sense of loss I was feeling by not being with others in the congregation.  All of that said, I am so thankful for the experience as it is helping me realize just how grateful I am for the opportunity to go to church most weeks.  I sometimes view it as something I kind of feel obligated to do.  Missing it like this is really helping me see how blessed I am to have the opportunity to go each week.

For reals, there were some pretty huge benefits to being at home for church.  These were by far and away the most comfortable pews I’ve ever sat in (our couch).  This was the first time I was able to drink coffee in church – pretty nice side benefit.  When Father Dodge asked us to reflect on what we may have done wrong or failed to do this past week Zeke (our cat) immediately started meowing loudly and continuously for the entire time. I always knew he was evil, I guess I just didn’t realize how many horrible things he needed to confess.  There were a few jokes here and there amongst us.  The dogs and cat joined us for their first church ever – Gavin even gave the dogs each a cracker during communion.  At one point during the homily I paused and saw LuLu snuggling with Dominic with her head on his shoulder, Skywalker cuddled up with Becky and Gavin, and Zeke and I were tolerating each others existence.  None of these things had ever happened at church before so it was a cool change of pace.

Like I started with, it was a very bittersweet and so surreal.  I could focus on how frustrating it is to not be able to go to church or how much it sucks to not have the same routine but what good would that do?  It doesn’t change anything.  Knowing that my ability to go to church as normal is out of my control I focused instead on what I could control.  My family and I still had church and took time to worship as a family.  In doing so we created memories we will never forget.  I’m also hoping the boys see how we value our faith life as it is the reason we do what we do and live as we live.  Regardless of what’s going on in the world around us we will always have our relationship with The Big Dude Upstairs.

One other quick side note…  This was a another great reminder for me of how much better my life is with Becky in it.  Without her idea and focus I most likely wouldn’t have gone to home church with the boys today.  She helped raise my spirits and made a better version of myself today.  Chalk up reason number 1,536,839,348 of why I am grateful for her!

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Shortly after church we packed up and headed out to do some hiking.  We headed off to one of our favorite state parks, Perrot, and hit a trail we’d somehow never done before.  Dominic is still working on his Cooking merit badge so he got the camp stoves going on top the bluff while Becky, Gavin, the girls, and I hiked a little extra and explored.  I’m always thankful for a meal made by the boys, it’s cool to see them showing their self-sufficiency.  The views from the top of the bluff were beautiful.  The time in nature was music to the soul.  As I’ve told Becky before, her church is the building and mass (or our house as it was today) but one of my favorite churches is the outdoors.  Spending time hiking as a family, enjoying fresh air, and experiencing all of the wonders of The Big Dude’s creations was exactly what my soul needed today.

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Yeah, the world is very different and there is a ton of stress, nervousness, and fear due to the changes.  My mind is still trying to comprehend how different the world was just over a week ago.  The past 9 days have felt like years in some ways and a matter of hours in others.  The scary thing is that I’m certain that the scariest times and trials lay in our future.  With that in mind, there’s nothing I can do to control that.  All I can control is how I react.  I will continue to smile.  I will continue to love.  I will continue to find reasons to be thankful for this challenge.  Without this situation I wouldn’t have had so much time with my family this week.  There is so much to learn through this situation.  In some ways I’ve been more thankful to be alive than I have in a very long time.  Life is short, I am so grateful to be around to continue enjoying it.  COVID-19…  whatever dude, you will never take away my positivity, love, joy, and ability to find a reason to be grateful for any situation.  You can control what happens in the world, but I control what happens in my head, my heart, and my soul.

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Thanks!!!

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