We’re all waiting. We’re all waiting for this threat to pass. As Orthodox Christians we know that all the trials of life are under God’s care--and that there is a purpose behind our endurance in trials. As Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (II Corinthians 4:8-10). Our endurance bears witness to our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, and our enemies about the Truth of our Faith. Our faith is made complete by our endurance (James 1:4; James 2:14).

Yet, throughout our lives, perhaps more particularly now, we find ourselves contending with the disquiet within us. Perhaps we are asking ourselves, like the Psalmist,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:11)

The disquiet that many of us are experiencing now may be because, for the first time, in a very long time, we are experiencing quiet. Our schedules have been quieted, the streets are a little less busy, and work, activities, school are all less pressing. We aren’t doing the things we did, including those things which often contribute to our sense of identity. We often introduce ourselves through our profession or by what we do so that we can be known, and because our professions or vocations often determine the terms of how we relate to those around us. Our success and proficiency in these fields not only reinforce our self-conception, but give us a sense of self-worth. But what we do in our daily routines can also distract us from aspects of ourselves that require attention. As the busyness of our daily lives decrease, we are being invited to remember ourselves, and how we relate to Christ.

In this process of recovering a memory of who we are underneath our professions and activities, patience is important. As the Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen writes, “The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” This is the invitation of this time: to understand what is manifested in this disquiet and to come to a better understanding of our relationship with Christ. In this way, we may come to a deeper understanding of one another as family members, coworkers, and communities and set ourselves to a more firm and urgent purpose in life. “This lesson of patience is not something God does to us to torture us, but is something He does to bring us back into line with our humanity” (Fr. Stephen Freeman, “The Slow Work of Grace.”)

Although we may not know the timeline, we know that this period and the threat of pandemic will pass. In the meantime, let us make the most of the time we have been given, however challenging it may be, to joyfully examine our hearts and our lives. If we do so honestly and courageously we will push forward on our journey towards completion in Christ.