On Covid-19, NFP, and Longing
Tawny Crawford, FCP
This Lent and the Holy Week have been different. Easter will be different. Everything is different.
We find us ourselves in the throws of the COVID19 Pandemic. We’re in our homes and we’re practicing social distancing. Grocery shopping is a very different experience. The whole world feels like it’s deep in an experience of Lent, penance, and fasting. Death is something real and around us like never before in our lifetimes. Our churches are closed. We can’t hug our loved ones and we can’t gather together. We’re separated from the much loved devotions and liturgies of Holy Week. We’re separated from The Eucharistic and the sacraments. We feel cut off.
Many of us find ourselves longing. Longing for normal. Longing for our loved ones. Longing to come back together. We sit watching mass on our TVs, watching from afar, longing to be in communion and in the presence of Christ. We realize what’s important. We realize what’s not. We realize what we’ve taken for granted. I sat, with tears streaming down my face Thursday evening. I was mad. I was heartbroken. I wanted so much to be with Christ at the Altar of Repose. It wasn’t fair! There was Christ, so close, and yet so hidden and separate. I wanted to be there with him. I wanted to receive him in Holy Communion. I wanted the Sacraments I so often take for granted. I turned to my phone for distraction. I opened my email. There was a message waiting from a friend. A few sentence about how this separation during this pandemic is similar to NFP.
She was right. For our own good and the good of our family, we often find ourselves having to wait. There we are longing for our spouse. Longing for his embrace. There he is so close. There he is ours to connect with on the deepest levels. There he is. But, because of circumstances, there he is, separate and in some ways, hidden from us. And it is for our own good. For our own good. We long for him. We miss him. We have to work harder to connect with him in other ways, on deeper levels that aren’t the same and could never replace the marital act, but that are just as important. Ways which are often much more work and require more of our heart.
This is so similar to what abstaining for a time when using NFP is like. It hurts and it makes you angry. You often find yourself resenting that separation. It’s hard, and that’s ok, because that longing, and striving for connection in other ways is good for you. They make you appreciate the moments you do get to come back together all that much more. You grow in those moments and your relationship is better for those struggles. That longing has purpose. That longing has meaning. This Easter, I hope your relationships, your marriage, and your faith grow through this time of abstaining from so many valuable, good, and beautiful things.