Sitting down to write this blog seems like a precarious use of my time. The world is currently enduring through a remarkable period full of unknowns. Yet that is entirely why I want my blog to respond to the question “Where have you seen God present in your week?” This question holds new meaning for me as I struggle with the changes I have seen in the world around me. Normally, my volunteer responsibilities are split between assisting in Campus Ministry’s initiatives at Merrimack College and at Hands to Help, a community resource center operated by the college in Lawrence, MA. When working with Campus Ministry, I am helping advance our outreach opportunities and directing charitable efforts. Whilst at Hands to Help, I focus on assisting our free after-school tutoring program that connects Merrimack student tutors with local elementary school students. I have settled into a routine that makes me feel like a valued and effective member of both offices. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic has entirely upended my way of life. Within the last week, the college has temporarily suspended all on-campus operations and moved to online learning. In effect, this suspension limits my ability to personally minister to students on campus and has resulted in the suspension of all services at Hands to Help. The disruption of these services has forced my coworkers and me to completely reevaluate how we may best serve the students at Merrimack and the Lawrence community.
Amidst all the restructuring, teleconferencing and social distancing, it is easy to expect I would see despair rather than God this past week. Now is an objectively cumbersome time for the world that has left many feeling isolated. Yet what I have seen manifest amongst all this turmoil is a reminder that God is present in good and bad times alike. My coworkers at Merrimack and Hands to Help are turning this situation into an opportunity for ministry and outreach. In Campus Ministry, the staff of Father Ray, Nick, Nicole and Hugh are readily mobilizing our social media platforms in order to reach out to students and the general community. From live streaming masses on YouTube to leading reflections through Instagram, they are reworking self-isolation into self-reflection. At Hands to Help, our team of Rosana, Lisbeth and Katlyn are refocusing our efforts toward raising money for clients who may be struggling with food security. The suspension of Hands to Help has not extinguished their fervor for assisting the Lawrence community.
This experience has helped me to see God more clearly now than ever before. My feelings are expressed in the words of Psalm 46, “Come behold the works of the Beloved, how Love does reign even in humanity’s desolation.”
Lawrence, MA 2019-2020