Prepare. 

It’s a word I have heard over and over again in my head and heart for at least the past six years — even more so in the last two. The word echoed in me like a familiar tune running in the back of my mind.

“Prepare for what?” I mused to myself and to the Lord in prayer. 

The answers were not clear and decisive. 

But the wisdom came in bits and pieces of inspiration like simplifying our lives and selling our home.

The message to prepare is always with us — from the time we were young, our parents tried to prepare us for the next step in our lives with food, shelter, education. Societal and financial planning is based on preparing for the future; study for the tests, get an education, a good job and put money aside for the future. 

For me, this message became more urgent over the past six years because I lost many loved ones to untimely deaths.

Is any time a great time to die? 

I think not.

Maybe others disagree.  

But we don’t get to ask those who’ve gone before us.

Some of our loved ones were more prepared than others. In the end, it didn’t really matter because prepared or not- death came and left behind waves of grief for those of us who mourned their passing. From each of those deaths- I learned lessons about life in the legacies of love they left behind and in the things that were left undone. 

Selling our home to downsize and renovating a home to be more accessible for my daughter is part of my response to the call to prepare for the days ahead. When life-threatening diseases and events come knocking at your door, one has no choice but to listen and do what we can to prepare. 

We all imagine that life will just continue as we know and we focus on living our lives and paying our bills — trying to do the best we can do with the resources we have before us. 

But in the midst of this pandemic, that quiet voice in my heart whispering “prepare” grows louder as the death tolls rise, especially in our own local community.

Life as we know it has come to a screeching halt. We are all under stress as we try to keep income flowing, families fed, children educated and live this new normal that is known as “sheltering in our home.” 

It sounds so nice and homey — but we all perceive the reality of this life as much more complicated than warm shelters in our home.

But is it really?

As this pandemic changes healthcare, the economy, and our lives; what can we really control?

What do we have to hold onto but our love for one another and our faith?

It is important to do what we can to prepare by securing jobs, caring for our families and doing what we can to flatten the curve and stay safe. But in the end — and we will all inevitably get there someday — what really matters is the gift of love that we leave behind. 

The time is now to get our things in order and to focus on important details at hand. Letters and wills and health care proxies are as important as is finding creative ways to navigate these new challenges.

But first and foremost we need to love.

Be sure that families and friends —  those in your circle of quarantines and those who are beyond your reach — know that they are loved and forgiven if hurts remain. 

And be loved.

Even if those around you cannot show or tell you, you are loved just the same. 

God died to let you know.

This past week began Passover, Holy Week and Good Friday. The stories that each one tells link together to reach beyond the pain and suffering of this life, to seek an eternal hope. Why do we “celebrate” the plight of Israel and the death of Jesus? 

Because in the end, God rewrote the stories with hope. 

What the enemy planned for evil, God used for good. Lives were lost and others were saved- but many came to their knees in appreciation of the gifts we have been given and the eternal hope that lies ahead. 

Good Friday appeared to be the worst day for Jesus and those who loved him. But on the third day, God rewrote this story of death and darkness and brought us life and light when Jesus rose from the grave.

Whether you believe me or not — we all know that our hearts are searching for purpose in the midst of this chaos we now live. I believe it’s time to prepare for both life and death by loving and being loved to live on in hope. 

This time reminds me of the story of a  little Polish nun in the 1930s, St. Maria Faustina. Her family struggled through the WWI, she became a nun and then in the convent had these experiences of Jesus revealing himself to her as Divine Mercy. 

St. Faustina recorded her conversations and experiences with Jesus in notebooks which are now published as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. The diary reveals God’s message of mercy for the world. You can read more about these miraculous experiences here: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message.

A lifetime of wisdom and direction is found in the diary of this humble Polish nun who herself lived in the middle of a world at war. But the extraordinary messages she received can be summed up in the words “Jesus, I trust in You,” inscribed on the image of Divine Mercy St Faustina received from God.

Since this pandemic started the Marian Fathers at the Shrine of Divine Mercy have been offering a download of this miraculous image to hang on the doorway of our homes. https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/seal-doorposts

This tradition of “sealing the doorposts of our home” hearkens back to the Hebrew scriptures and the accounts of Passover in Exodus 12. 

These simple actions of faith are not meant to release us from sound earthly preparations for the safety of our homes. But it is a reminder to me of the simplicity of life and truth in the midst of tumultuous times. Don’t put off till tomorrow what needs to be done today. 

Reconcile with loved ones offering forgiveness and love. 

Today is Easter! This is the day God rewrote the story of Jesus’ passion and death to lead to His resurrection! 

Celebrate life! And leave the rest up to God. 

I promise you that if you place your faith in God, even using simple utterances of faith like “Jesus, I trust in you,”  you will experience new life and find hope in the midst of these trials.

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is poured out within our hearts.” Romans 5:5

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

SHARE
Eileen Benthal
Eileen is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Email Eileen