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By Tim Miller
On a recent Sunday I was out for an early morning walk. My route took me through the campus of a large Catholic parish. As I walked through the back side of the property I noticed just one car and it was parked out of the way near some trees. I could see that the vehicle was packed with all kinds of items and as I got closer I saw a head slumped near the steering wheel. I continued to walk on but all kinds of thoughts began to enter my mind…Was the person sleeping? Were they sick with COVID-19 or could they even be dead? Were they someone who had recently lost their home due to the pandemic crisis? As I walked further, the voice in my head said, “You should go back and see if they are okay, or need help.” But another voice said, “What if they are dead, or homeless or sick? How can I help them? Will it be safe to approach the car, etc.?”
After about a half mile I decided that I needed to take the chance and go back. I knew it was the right thing to do but I still was hesitant. Hopefully the car would be gone, or maybe I was mistaken that there was someone inside. As I returned to the parking lot I saw that the car was still there. I debated how to approach it and finally thought I would tap on the hood. As I did so, a small head looked up and I realized it was an elderly woman. I mouthed, “Are you OK?” and with that she held up a book that had been in her lap titled The Celebration of the Eucharist, and I faintly heard the sound of a radio. She gave me a big smile and waved me on my way. I realized that she had been listening to mass on the radio and following along. While there was no service going on at the church, it was important for her to be close to the house of God for her prayers as she likely was every Sunday in “normal” times.
As I walked home I was surprisingly emotional and realized with that brief encounter God had taught me three lessons:
1) First, if you think you see someone in need, especially in these difficult times, don’t listen to that inner voice that says ”But what if…” . Put yourself out there a bit and extend a hand to help however you can.
2) Second, as the routines in our lives are turned upside down, we can still carry on and connect with God in a way that speaks uniquely to each of us and is comforting to us.
3) And finally, realize that God is always looking out for us and will protect us if we just listen to his voice and trust in his wisdom and plan.
The clergy, staff and committed parishioners of CCC have done an outstanding job of building a virtual church to offer us ways to worship and grow spiritually that none of us likely ever imagined. And despite the Shelter at Home order, CCC has looked outwardly to the community and identified a host of ways for us to serve and help others during this crisis. I hope that we all use these opportunities to answer that voice inside that says, “You should go back and see if they are okay, or if I can help.”