How can restlessness be good at this time of pandemic?

Maybe some of us have experienced restlessness during this pandemic. We wanted to travel but we couldn’t.  We wanted to visit a loved one, but we were not allowed.  We wanted to do the usual things we do, and even the good things we wanted to do, we couldn’t because there is a pandemic, and we were in a lockdown.  That bring restlessness.

When my mother celebrated her 80TH birthday last year, my brother sent pictures of the celebration and said:

“You’re not here. We miss you.”

I’m always present for my mother’s birthday because I really treasure celebrating the Holy Eucharist in our house as my precious gift to her which she loves most.  I said to my brother,

“Don’t worry; next year I’ll be present.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic came, and international travel continues to be limited.  Then, the 81st birthday of my mother came, and I couldn’t go back home.  I would not be there again, and I started to be restless.

The pandemic brings restlessness to me because I want to go back home.  I want to be present at my mother’s birthday.  I want to be at the funeral of my friend.  I want to visit my grieving friend for the loss of her husband.  I want to have my holidays.  I wasn’t able to find peace and serenity for some months of the pandemic and I was so restless, only to find out that I was looking for peace and serenity outside my heart until I was reminded by St Augustine’s words;

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me,
but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me but I was not with you.”  Then, he added
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it rests in you...”

My heart was restless because I tried to find peace and serenity from the outside.  But the restlessness of the pandemic invited me to search within myself, to find peace and serenity in my heart because if I can’t find peace and serenity there, I definitely will never find them in other people, places and things. The restlessness of the pandemic led me to rediscover the truth that God is present within my soul and making my broken heart whole again.

Now, I can say that my heart is at peace and is serene because I know where to go and where to search for them.  This is the good of the restlessness that the pandemic brought to me: it led me to the place of peace and serenity within me.  I’m not restless anymore of thinking how to go back home.  If I can visit home this year, then it is an extra blessing because I already entrust everything into God’s hands because God will continue to look after me, and us.

Father Eladio Jr Lizada, OSJ is a Filipino priest from the Religious Congregation of the Oblates of Saint Joseph based in the Diocese of Ballarat.  He has always in his heart the desire "to serve the interests of Jesus like Saint Joseph" wherever the call of the vow of obedience brings him.  

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