Insights with Emily: God, life’s only constant

Emily Salerno-Oswald

Lifestyle Columnist

The seasons change. We all know that. We take pleasure in it, even. We watch the leaves change color and drift softly to the ground in the fall. We build snowmen and go sledding in the winter. We anxiously await the first blossoms of spring.

But maybe this year has felt to you like one, long, dark winter. So much desolation tends to weigh on people after a while, and maybe you’ve entered a mindset of cynicism, thinking things may never get better. Maybe you fear we will all remain in this state of abnormality forever, wearing masks and distancing ourselves and living each day wondering what happened to the world we once knew.

Then again, I often look at my surroundings and see so many things that are better now than they used to be just a couple of months ago. The other day, I sat outside and it was sunny and warm. I saw students sitting on hammocks, I heard the pleasant buzz of friends talking and laughing together in the distance, birds chirped, gentle breezes blew, and, for a moment, things felt —

dare I say it? — normal.

I rested for a while, and then wondered — why are things like this now? Why couldn’t they have been like this months ago? I recalled many sleepless nights of wishing my circumstances could be anything other than what they were. I imagine the whole world felt like that.

Nothing I did could change things. I couldn’t fast-forward or rewind my life. I couldn’t transport myself to a sunny campus where springtime was nearly here. I couldn’t will that reality into existence. It was winter, and I was in lockdown. And now, I thought to myself, I’m back at school … finally. But, why, I asked God. Why now?

I don’t claim that we’re out of the woods yet, but admittedly, things are improving. Vaccines are being administered, schools are reopening, people are returning to everyday life … but not everyone. Thousands of Americans have not lived to see the sunshine of spring, my own uncle being one of them. He passed away from COVID-19 last August at the age of 53. Why didn’t he get to make it to spring? I asked God. Why did I?

I was quite distressed by all of this. I started to doubt God’s goodness. What is this, anyway? I thought. Could we all be given a glimpse of hope one day, just to have it taken away the next? I was afraid that if I walked in the joy of this new reality, it would be taken from me again.

Last year, I thought my reality had crumbled. However, a greater reality was at play than any “reality” we find ourselves consumed with. So many times, we question God’s timing when things seem to be going wrong, but we fail to marvel at it when things happen to us at precisely the right time.

Do you ever stop to ask yourself why that stranger happened to say “hi” to you when you needed a pick-me-up? Or why class happened to be cancelled when you really needed a mental health day? Or why that friend happened to walk to the water fountain and then talk with you about God at the exact moment when you needed inspiration for your Troubadour article?

God doesn’t abandon us — the intricacy of himself and his work permeate every aspect of our lives, though we rarely notice because we rarely look past what can be physically seen. He didn’t abandon us through this pandemic. He didn’t abandon the doctors and the nurses working with COVID-19 patients. He didn’t abandon the people dying alone in hospitals.

He is omnipresent. He is everything, everywhere. He is as powerful as a raging storm and as gentle as a whisper on the wind. The reason it feels like he’s not with us sometimes is because we ignore him.

He calls to each of us so many times in a day in his gentle way, and we walk away, turn our heads, or do something as simple as put in our earbuds — ultimately blocking him out so it is impossible to hear him. He doesn’t want to take away our joy — he wants to restore it; indeed, he is the source of it. He doesn’t want to manipulate us; he wants to free us.

He works mysteriously. Sometimes he is as blatant as a blizzard, redirecting our paths, and other times he just gives us a little nudge that we miss if we’re not paying attention. Time and again, he has proven that he is present in every moment. He gives everything purpose.

So, why now? I may never know for sure why my life looks like it does at this instant, but God knows. He knows what the next trillion moments look like and why they look that way. He is working to sprout a springtime in each of our souls, and the loved ones we have lost are now experiencing an eternal springtime.

Look for his nudges throughout your day, listen for his whispers. Feel the gravity of the fact that he is the only thing that is constant in this transient world.

“Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.” Song of Songs 2:12.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4.

“Put yourself in God’s hands; he abandons no one.” – St. Andres Bessette.