Editor’s note: FMS missioner Anna reflects on these times of quarantine and how she’s spending it in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
As the whole world is asked to stop, us missioners in Bolivia also find ourselves cooped up in our apartment in downtown Cochabamba. Now, I have to say, I am extremely grateful for where we live. We have ample space, a balcony to walk around outside and a beautiful garden to enjoy. At least we have space to be outside in the open air. Not all are that lucky right now, and not even all are lucky enough to have a roof over their head. They have no option but to stay outside on the streets during this pandemic. Lord, may you be with those who are not fortunate enough to have safe quarters. Guard them and keep them safe and healthy. So, I am bummed about having to stay home, but I am grateful at the same time to have the space that we do.
While the three of us are home together, we are spending time alone and time together. One thing we love to do together is eat cookies and watch movies! Sabrina suggested that we watch Christopher Robin, and that we did. Even though the movie is based on the childhood story of Winnie the Pooh, the lesson wrapped up in the movie is ever so applicable to what we are experiencing today. One of Pooh’s famous lines is “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” And guess what all of us are finding ourselves doing… nothing.
Right now, many of us are continuing to work from home, or in the hospitals if you are a medical professional (thank you to ALL, especially my sister and friends in KY), and many students are continuing their studies online. However, the world is asking us to stop. So many events have taken place over the past few years in the world… wild fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and more. None of which caused the whole world to stop; only single communities at a time stopped during those troubling times. But now, we find ourselves in a moment in history where the entire world is being overtaken by one virus, and the entire world is being asked to stop. Our society resists the nature to stop, take a break, think, take a breath, and listen. Our world is hurting, and has been hurting for quite some time, but not many have taken a moment to stop and listen to Pachamama, as Bolivians would say, or Mother Earth. In other words, the Lord is speaking to us through Pachamama, and He wants us to listen.
So, as we find ourselves doing nothing at home, may we find time to stop and listen to our Father in Heaven. Often our identity is wrapped up in what we do in life: our profession, our social groups, our hobbies. When those things are stripped from us, we don’t know what to do and we can’t handle it. Yet, what we forget is that our identity is found completely in Jesus Christ, Himself. God is asking us to stop and remember who we are: who we are as individuals, who we are as a family unit, who we are as a community, who we are as a nation, and who we are as one, united world. Things happen in life that divide us from other nations, divide our communities, divide our families, and divide our personal relationships, and now God is asking us to look past those divisions and come together as one… because are one. We are one family united under God.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, we are told, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles [Jews or Catholics or Protestants or Muslims or Buddhists or…] slave or free [citizens of the US or Bolivia or China or Italy or Kenya or Cambodia or Panama…]—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
We are many nations, many people, many religions, yet we are one body and are being asked to function as one. It will take all united to overcome the epidemic that is sweeping our Earth. But just how do we become united? By doing nothing. All are stuck at home with their families and have nothing to do. But let us not forget what Winnie the Pooh has taught us, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.”
As you sit at home doing nothing with your loved ones, may something spring about that first unites you to Christ, and then, in turn, unites you to each other. You have been given time to do nothing… to sit with the Lord in this nothingness and allow Him to speak to you. When our hearts are united to God, our hearts naturally become united to those around us. You’ll want to spend time together doing nothing, and while you do nothing together, you’ll have meaningful conversations and create meaningful memories together like eating dinner around the table, playing games and watching movies, and creating crafts out of what you have around your house… all while doing it together. Doing nothing creates the best of something: the best of memories together. And when we create the best of memories together, we become united to those around us, and then we quickly desire to be united to those far from us and around the world, too.
All of us as kids quickly catch onto little lessons from children’s stories, like Winnie the Pooh, and so quickly forget them as adults. But today, let us remember the lesson that Pooh has taught us. Let us stop, do nothing, and let it turn into the very best something. And there is no better day to do it than today. Pooh also says, “It’s today. My favorite day.” Let today be your favorite day. Don’t worry about what tomorrow holds. Only our loving, God the Father in heaven knows what tomorrow holds, and He will take care of tomorrow. It is our job and responsibility to make today our favorite day and listen to what Pachamama wants to say.
For me, as I sit and do nothing on my bed in our apartment in the center of Cochabamba, I listen to the silence… the silence that is usually filled with the sound of cars driving down the busy streets, the chatter of people, and loud music… but now, the silence that is gently blessed with the sound of the breeze wrestling with the trees, the chirping of birds, falling rain, and stillness outside. This silence allows me to stop, take a break, think, take a breath and listen to the voice of God calling me into communion with those around me and around the world.
Reflection: Are you able to stop and listen during this time? How are you being creative in making memories with your loved ones at home?