“And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound. In the risen Jesus, life conquered death.”
I will never forget the first time I saw my father cry. It was the luncheon following his father’s funeral. I was eleven. My dad is a fairly logic-driven, matter-of-fact kind of guy. While always a great storyteller and a lot of fun, displays of emotion aren’t how he rolls. So when I saw him so sad and so vulnerable, I remember understanding for the first time that life is short, grief is real, and no one is invincible, not even my dad. As my mother’s son, tears aren’t as much a rarity for me. However, this Thursday, as we gathered as a family around the TV for the "Disney Family Singalong," a whole bunch of things hit me at once. It was probably the combination of classic beautiful songs, heart-wrenching images of healthcare workers and countless displays of authentic gratitude for them, and thinking about people who I know who have lost loved ones. Most definitely, it was also looking across the couch and realizing that my babies were watching the same thing I was and wondering how they could process it all, given the fact it was overwhelming me. As tears streamed down my face, I happened to look over at our oldest Annie who was staring at me. While I can’t believe it’s the first time she has seen me cry, I felt in her stare what I felt 27 years ago. This situation was making her grow up faster, and faster than I certainly would want.
A little concerned at the fact that I cried to a Disney Family Singalong, I tried to process a bit with Tricia later that evening. We both shared how we thought this whole experience might be affecting the kids and making them grow up a little faster. At one point I said, "I just hate that." Grabbing my hand, Tricia, in her expected wisdom, said, "Dan, we can’t stop them from growing up or experiencing life. What we can do is help them know what to learn and how to grow from it." It reminded me of what someone said about our faith. Jesus didn’t die and rise to keep us comfortable. He embraced the cross to help us know how to grow in our reliance on the Father. Our call isn’t to stay where we are but to "grow up" in our understanding and dependence on the God who loves us. How am I growing up in faith as a result of this pandemic? For those in my life, am I being intentional in helping them know how to grow through their suffering? The memory of my father, while striking and sad, isn’t bad. It was instructive. It showed me how much he loved his father in a way that I never knew. How can we show our love for the Father during this time in a way perhaps others never knew? In the meantime, my advice is just to stay away from Disney music and stay safe in these days.
PS – This Wednesday at 1pm ET, I will be discussing Catholic leadership during this pandemic live with Jason Shanks from Our Sunday Visitor. Please join us by clicking here.