I've enjoyed sharing the beginning of my convent journey with you: how my heart turned back to the Lord after my mess in Texas.
But I've felt the Lord calling me to share a more recent story this Lent and Easter.
A year ago today, March 12, marked the last day of normal for my home state of Michigan, before the schools, churches, and businesses closed down.
When Lent began this year, I told my husband how the short-term sacrifices of this 40-day Lent would be a breeze, in comparison to the Long Lent we've experienced for the past year. Fasting and abstaining from meat for a 24-hour window, while still difficult, seems far less challenging than quarantining from family and friends, social distancing, and watching Mass virtually on my laptop. Each of us has been fasting from many things, even essential things, during this past year. We've missed special occasions, celebrations, and events. Some have lost jobs or income. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus.
In certain ways, our situation has improved since last March. But the world around us is still changed, still stalled, as we wait impatiently for the Easter of Normalcy to return again.
Yet we cannot go back to the way things were. Our lives are changed forever by this Long Lent.
I don’t propose any easy (or difficult) answers to the losses we've experienced in this past year. I don’t have any human solutions.
But I do know a divine one. I know that if we take the sufferings of this Long Lent and unite them with Christ’s sufferings, they take on infinite worth and value. When we find ourselves broken or in need, our sufferings can release love in the hearts of those around us. And if we accept the sufferings that inevitably come our way, out of love, we can help to save the world.
This is the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. We can know it in words; but far better to know it by living it.
Saint Paul says, "yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). To be a Christian is to enter into the life of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is God and outside of space and time, His Life continues to be lived, mysteriously, in each of His followers.
This is a story about Christ's life in me. This is a story about my daughter Elizabeth.
Isn't she the sweetest thing?
Elizabeth Rose is 10 1/2 months old. A quarantine baby from her first breath. Her whole life has been hidden, sheltered from the outside world.
Her story begins with a lullaby:
Dear baby girl, long before your birth
We thought we’d lost you—nine months
Daddy and I tiptoed inside the doctor’s orders
Watched you grow, week by week, month by month—
Watched the bleeding grow, too,
Until one ultrasound it vanished.
Our relief was quickly swallowed up
By other fears and pains:
Placental lakes and a medicine like poison.
In November we announced, “It’s a girl!” but inside I cried.
Would our baby girl live to see the light of day?
Would April 2020 ever come?
Oh, it came, baby girl.
And you came too, when at last
Exhausted and exultant, I brought you into a world
Of masks and isolation and silent hospital floors,
Your new life dawning in the place of death.
Yet what are all those sorrows now
Compared to your tender smile? Outside our home,
The world weeps: still baby girl, smile on.
Oh baby girl, this April felt like the end of the world.
Your great-grandmother lost to the virus
Your grandparents sick with COVID, three endless weeks
Your daddy in the hospital ten days before your birth,
Mommy and your brother left alone to dye
The eggs and hide the baskets, under a sunless sky.
I wondered then for the first time ever:
Would we all live to survive such evil days?
But you will live to go beyond these troubled times.
These days are dark, but I believe the sun will shine again.
Winter does not last forever,
Although it leaves its cruel marks in every season:
Our dead, once lost, can ne’er return again.
Still, baby girl, dream of brighter Springs:
The Aprils that may yet arrive to cheer our weary souls.
And, if life gives you Winter:
Still, baby girl, smile on.
Thank you for reading! Join me next week to hear more about how Elizabeth's story began.
About the Author:
From Army public affairs to convent life to marriage and motherhood, Mary Rose Kreger’s journey has been filled with twists and turns. Wherever she’s journeyed, she’s always been writing stories. She lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy tales for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent.
Mary also shares faith-based poems and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account, @faithandfantasy1.